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Sunday, December 29, 2019


by Judith Terzi

A fleeing suspect was arrested
with blood spilling over his clothing
smelling of bleach. Candle wax
dripping down my silver-plated
menorah. Multi-colored wax
clinging to its round base, clogging
its candle holders that we clean
each festival night. My family
closed blinds when we lit the candles
just after the war in Philly. This
same menorah with a star of David
in the middle guarded by the claws
of a lion on either side. The suspect
could have stabbed my grandfather
and my great-grandfather––Hasids
like the five he stabbed on the seventh
night of Chanukah. My grandfather
could have given me a check for $5,
written Chanukah gelt in the lower
left-hand corner with a hand unused
to writing English letters. My parents
could have given me another pair
of pajamas on the seventh night,
or a jigsaw puzzle, or a Toni doll,
or a dress my mother would have
sewn on her Singer. We closed
blinds when we lit the menorah.
The suspect wielded a large knife.
The children stopped singing, and
the dreidel stopped spinning, and
the rabbi prayed for his congregants
and for his son who were stabbed.
And for the victims of the twelve
other acts of violence against
Hasids in the past three weeks.
And the people are terrified.
And the country stays divided.

Judith Terzi is the author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books) as well as of five chapbooks including If You Spot Your Brother Floating By and Casbah (Kattywompus). Her poetry appears widely in literary journals and anthologies, has been nominated for Best of the Net and Web and a Pushcart, and read on Radio 3 of the BBC. She holds an M.A. in French Literature and taught high school French for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.