by Rick Black (Arlington, VA)
Brittle, yellowed pages.
Partially erased, Hebrew letters.
His crumbling prayer book is mine now.
Stooped over in his living room, dovaning.
His white, short-sleeved shirt and shock
of white hair; his thin, willowy frame.
The cigar stub between his lips.
Roasting brisket and a shelf of pills.
A Yankee game on the television console.
A pale, florescent light.
Narrow, sickly-green vestibule
with a picture of his youngest son,
killed in World War II.
We play checkers.
He nudges a checker to another square.
He doesn’t let me win.
Now, I hold his prayer book
in my hands by the yahrzeit plaques,
by the tarnished and the yet to be tarnished,
by the lit and the yet-to-be lit.
Rick Black is an award-winning book artist and poet who runs Turtle Light Press, a small press dedicated to poetry, handmade books and fine art prints. His poetry collection, Star of David, won an award for contemporary Jewish writing and was named one of the best poetry books in 2013. His haiku collection, Peace and War: A Collection of Haiku from Israel, has been called “a prayer for peace.” Other poems and translations have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Midstream, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Frogpond, Cricket, RawNervz, Blithe Spirit, Still, and other journals.