My Father’s Death

Avrom Abba ben Sholom David, of blessed memory

1. After the Shiva* at the Metropolitan Museum
Sitting across from Degas’
“Woman with Chrysanthemums,”
spillage of bloom in the center,
on the right, her blase eye
over scanning the wooden horizon:
Is there a garden there, someone
waiting? In the next room
people coming, leaving (excess
of inscrutable motion, excess
of distraction} pass between
you and the image, where you
thought you would at last find space.
When the crowd thins, wending
toward other attractions,
when it’s summer or winter
or a workday or any day,
when you’ve stopped counting days,
you will try again.
2. Six months later

The world is having a delayed reaction
to my father’s death.
Today came a letter of regrets
for not having been there to bury or praise.
As if our actions were a saving grace.

My father floats in a sky of forgetfulness.
Once he asked me to forgive,
now he is easy with himself.
When his hard and heavy breathing
stopped that morning in October,
he had no more expectations.

Let him go, and go on without him.
He is dead and it is late.
Our sins number and multiply
unconsciously, but my father
has no need, forgives all.

Marcia Falk is the author of an acclaimed translation of The Song of Songs (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich) and of two chapbooks of poems: It Is July in Virginia (Rara Avis Press) and This Year in Jerusalem (State Street Press). Her poems and translations from Hebrew and Yiddish have been published widely in journals and anthologies. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Judaism.