“Being Jewish in a Small Town” by Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin


someone writes kike on
the blackboard and the
“k’s” pull thru the
chalk, stick in my

plump, pale thighs.
Even after the high
school burns down the
word is written in

the ashes. My under
pants’ elastic snaps
on Main St because
I can’t go to

Pilgrim Fellowship.
I’m the one Jewish girl
in town but the 4
Cohen brothers

want blond hair
billowing from their
car. They don’t know
my black braids

smell of almond.
I wear my clothes
loose so no one
dreams who I am,

will never know
Hebrew, keep a
Christmas tree in
my drawer. In

the dark, my fingers
could be the menorah
that pulls you toward
honey in the snow.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007


Lyn Lifshin: “Sometime in 2004, I fell in love with horses. In Vermont, everyone rode. I took lessons but when it came to going to the racetrack, I brought a book. But somehow Ruffian, a gorgeous black filly who died 32 years ago took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I lived her in dreams, writing, daydreams. I bid for her photos, articles on EBay and Amazon. She got me through a hard time. And now, Barbaro is my new love, my new obsession.” (website)

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