Philadelphia had ice storms,but no troikas. My husband slide/slips like Charlie Chaplinon black ice holding an umbrella over his headwhile ice pop-pops like popcorn off its brisk surface on his way to work.My grandmother— emigrated 1939,nee Russian, who spoke five languageswas documented as "Yiddish"on her arrival at Ellis Island.
Somehow she managedto bring her familyand a samovar [End Page 91] that would survive even the closing of the Russian Tea Room (NYC)(Thank God she wasn't here to see it, said her daughter/my mother)
On entering a crowded roomshe would soft sigh, "Aah" meaning Souls are present,
a connection among people as in a marriagewhere 1 + 1 + marriage = an equilateral vortex.
Above her a horse grazes in a field of lovers.Chagall asks a bird to fly over the lovers.He asks the color blue to outline the bird'sheart.
I, the granddaughter, am the girl on the white horseflying over the small houses between wet and dry paint between present and future.
Because I am at home in the air because in dreams I am not afraid of heights because I speak only one language wellbecause Rothko did not title his paintings#?I scan the wall in my mind to select which elusive shimmerI want to share. It feels like this oneI say:
Like a hologram, it appears every so often like a floater in my eye.
Listen to laughter, my grandmother would chortle.Notice the quirky lift of the thick left eyebrow.Ach yes, the mouth. [End Page 92] The story is in the shape of that person's mouthThen she toasts L'Chaim with a glass of teawhose vibrato will last
into late autumnlike a fleeting meeting of souls. [End Page 93]
Claudia M. Reder's book of poems is My Father and Miro and Other Poems (Bright Hill Press, 2001). A poem, "How to Braid Challah," won first prize in the Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize from Lilith Magazine. She teaches at California State University at Channel Islands, and loves helping people tell their stories, ages five to ninety-five. Reder sees poetry as an intersection of language, her Jewish heritage, and spirituality. You can reach Claudia at firstname.lastname@example.org