In Kraków’s marketplace, the kiosks vend
carved men at thirty złotys each: a Jew
who grips the Torah in his wooden hands,
a beggar Jew, a bobble-headed Jew
whose body sways and nods with just a pull
against his jagged nose, a singing Jew,
a Jew who spills gold coins onto a scale,
the balance tipping in his favor. These Jews
will be wrapped up and taken home to stand
on cluttered shelves. Children will clench the Jews,
the żydki, as their parents say. How pale
their faces are, how dark the beards of Jews,
as black as coal dust covering new snow
(and lost with memory in the dirt below).
From “The Hardship Post” (Three Candles Press, 2009), rereleased by Sundress Publications, 2013.
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of five poetry collections, among them “The Arranged Marriage” (University of New Mexico Press, 2015), “Red Army Red” (Northwestern University Press, 2012) and “Stateside” (Northwestern University Press, 2010). She is director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and an associate professor of creative writing at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., where she edits its national literary journal, “Cherry Tree.”