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Sunday, December 02, 2012


by Sondra Zeidenstein

Image source: Wicked Mike
I woke from a dream
in which I had curly hair,
a bushel of it, unkempt,
uncombable, beyond
messing with
and I was smiling,
I who have always had
scanty hair, flat
to my narrow Rumanian
Jewish skull. I didn’t care
that it wasn’t beautiful,
just that there was
so much of it.

So I’m slow this morning
letting myself down
into reality, the disrepair
our ship of state displays
two days after we won
by one percent, the victory,
a gift from Blacks and Hispanics,
our traditional country
gone, said a pundit.

But my traditional country
has always been
diverse and I remember
how proud I was to be
standing in line in the gym
at school next to the one
black girl in my grade
and when we were told
to hold hands to our left
and our right, my brain
hesitated a second, imagining
the other to whom I’d never
spoken and then
without looking at her,
since we faced forward
so stiffly, I reached sideways
took her hand, and she
took mine. She was thin, my height,
I can’t recall her name,

but that her hand was
slighter than I expected,
her fingers without grasp
to reach for what she knew
by now at twelve
did not belong to her,
her palm flat and dry,

and I felt secretly proud
that I was called on
to extend my privilege
and well being, to someone
less sure of what if anything
belonged to her and I lived
for a moment joined, saying
to my proud, ignorant self,
what I have she must have too.
Here. Take it.

So Obama won again.
He walked on stage at two
in the morning when I could
barely stay awake and his women
wore taffeta, the girls’ legs
exposed above the knees,
their hair flattened and shining
under the lights, their parents
never leaving them for an instant
under the roars of thousands
joined as I had been
seventy years ago
at Morningside School.
This family had it all
for a moment in our country,
something I always believed in.
I was part of it or
I was nothing.

Sondra Zeidenstein is a poet and publisher of Chicory Blue Press. She has published three books of poems, including A Detail in that Story and Contraries and edited several anthologies, including A Wider Giving: Women Writing after a Long Silence.