Sarah Sarah shtetl child
of peddler Sholem, sheytled Mintzi,
you bore the griefs of history to Brooklyn,
hungry for the taste of liberation
in the cage of a tenement
where you sang your exiled songs.
Sarah of dark curls and heart-shaped face,
what a beauty you were, girl of seventeen
smiling under April blossom trees
with Sam, namesake of your father;
in you he saw the Medina’s promised gold.
The litany of your three day labor,
your apocalyptic screams
while Bubbe Sonia muttered in his ear
bad luck to kiss before a birth.
His male hesitation
his fear of uncleanness
The kiss too late.