No Evil Eye

My name is Chaim.
It means life.
Everyone who drinks
makes toasts to me
but take my word for it
my life has been no picnic,
and if it were,
God would send a horde of ants
as guests.

I know what you’re thinking,
another Jew who sees
a dark cloud lurking
behind every silver lining,
but I’m entitled
after losing Rachel
and caring for the kindele
she left behind.

When the lovely widow Ida
invited me for dinner,
I asked God, what’s the catch?
Just enjoy, He told me, but I couldn’t
leave well enough alone.
Her husband Mendel had been found
stone-cold in her bed.
Poison, I reasoned, it had all the signs.
After all they said her brisket
was to die for.

A dybbuk in me urged
to put her to the test
so when she left the room
I fed a little to the cat.
Thanks to my unlucky stars
she returned too soon
and tossed me in the street.
Even then did God grant me any pity?
Not a thimble full.
“ Listen, schmuck,” He said.
“You can look a gift horse in the mouth
but make it quick.
If you examine each and every tooth
you’re bound to find a cavity or two.”

(originally published in Storyacious)


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