The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Judy Kronenfeld



The bent-backed zeide,

newly moved in after

grandma died, enters his grandson's

toy-filled room after school—the parents

not yet home—where the boy's arranging

action figures on a shelf.

Wrapping spindly fingers around the boy's

thin upper arm, he pulls it to him

and kisses the warm flesh—smelling like

sun-baked grass—as he kissed the edge

when he donned his prayer shawl

for his morning prayers. But with more fervor—age

to youth, old country to

the new. His hazel eyes

crinkle and melt.


His beard and moustache are white,

with discolored yellow whiskers—

from his food?—and his lips are a little

wet; the boy thinks of the bristles

on a walrus snout. He is embarrassed

to be made a sort of god,

and flattered as if it were deserved,

and not sure what

the qualifications are.


But what to do with his anointed

and immobilized right arm, still

clutching a soldier in khaki uniform?

His grandfather's zeal is unreadable

as the characters in his prayer

books, his worship is so private

and complete that the boy cannot

pull his arm away, but waits,

squeezing shut his eyes to resist

tugging down his sleeve

to rub the wetness off.

Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication