by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)
At a crowded train hub
a man dressed in a long black robe
pointed at me and repeated, “You Jewish?”
“You, Jew, step out of the line.”
I waved him away.
“Men here, women over there.”
How dare he, out of all the people
rushing for their trains, single me out?
“Achtung, mach schnell.”
Do I have a long nose?
Do I have money pouring out of my pockets?
Do I shuffle along like a prisoner?
Please, God, don’t single me out.
The mournful music of the camps
resonates in my soul.
But then, later, after some thought,
I wondered if I had misread the Chasid.
Maybe he was just offering me
a sweet greeting for the holiday season.
I don’t want to be chosen.
Maybe he was simply saying
we are landsmen, no?
I dismissed him out of hand.
My parents are European.
I could have had numbers on my arm.
Have I been so scarred I may have missed
an opportunity for connection and grace?
You, Jewish? Yes, I am.
The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years. Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in the YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy, edited by M. Jerry Weiss.
If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit: http://www.melglenn.com/