September 25, 2018


Laurel crowns bedeck our greying heads. We sit on chairs in the room where minutes ago the strains of “Brown Eyed Girl” lured youthful dancers to writhe against each other in celebration of love. The music: throaty melodic sounds of Yiddish — Hekher besser, Di rod, di rod makht gresser, Di mezinke oysgegebn—. Our last child has found her mate, left our nest. Wedding guests emerge from tables, leave behind chocolate-crusted confections. Friends and family encircle us. My husband pulls me to my feet, slowly draws me into our own circle, as private as the ring he’d drawn on our own long-ago wedding night. The music quickens, we whirl, dizzied, swept away. Years later, I read of a wedding where tradition forbade the bride’s father to dance with his wife. He danced the Mezinka, held high his partner — a bejeweled broom. His wife danced with her own broom among the women. Apart by decree, they swept their empty nest. Tradition called for their separation but when our last child marries the man she loves, even a broom of gold cannot replace the moment my husband invites me again to his circle of love in the Mezinka serenade.

Gail Fishman Gerwin wrote “Sugar and Sand,” “Dear Kinfolk” (2012, ChayaCairn Press), and “Crowns” (2015, Aldrich Press). She was associate poetry editor of Tiferet Journal.