Your Own Kind

My father said that everyone
Should stick to his own kind,
Jews to Jews,
Colored to colored,
Latin to Latin,
Sorted and labeled
Like nails and screws and bolts
In jars along the shelf.

Uncle Morris railed against
Spic gangs and
Schvartze welfare queens.
My father ordered out for Chinks.
Someone called our family
A bunch of noisy kikes
I wished that we were Quakers,
Speaking only when the spirit moved us.

I married a French Catholic
Despite my father’s admonition
That when we had our first big fight
She’d call me dirty Jew.
As it turned out,
She said I was a great big schmuck.

Shiksa? asked Aunt Milly’s
Old world parents
As they sniffed her out.
They addressed her
Like the simple child at the seder.
This is Jewish food, they said,
Pointing to the brisket.
She nodded. It’s delicious.
Maybe not so bad a shiksa.

That night in the bedroom,
I offered her a taste of
Kosher love,
Blessed by rabbis,
Sizzled to perfection.
I kissed the mezuzah.
She made the sign of the cross.
Peace, I called out.
Shalom, she answered.

(originally published in Poetica)

 

your own kind

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