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.

Judy Kronenfeld is the author of  two books and two chapbooks of poetry, the most recent being Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize (Litchfield Review Press, 2008).  Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay have appeared in numerous print and online journals including Calyx, Cimarron Review, The American Poetry Journal, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, The Hiram Poetry Review, Passager, Poetry International, Stirring, The Women's Review of Books and The Pedestal, as well as in a dozen anthologies or text books, including Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (Greenhouse Review Press/Alcatraz Editions, 2008), Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer's Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009), and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women's Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010).  She currently has poems forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Fox Chase Review, and Jewish Women's Literary Annual, among others, and an essay forthcoming in the 2011 edition of Under the Sun.



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