Lucky Jew

Friday, January 15, 2021

In Poland, folk carvings of Jews are believed to bring good luck, especially in financial matters.

I am nothing but wood
you made to mean with a knife,
two springs for my feet, a coat of paint.

Press my black hat backward
and I rock, my prayer frenetic
as the guard dog bounding

on his own spring
outside your daughter’s doll house,
where the children dress for church.

In my hands you place a snippet
of the Torah you found hidden
in your grandfather’s crawlspace.

Every day you carve another Jew.
One of us holds a fiddle, another
holds a coin, but we all bear the face

of the baker’s boy you half-
recall from childhood games
though his nose has grown,

his back bent like your own
by years of carving. I wonder,
will you make enough of us

to form a minyan, enough to pray
the Kaddish, before you box us up,
before you ship us off to the shops?

Friday, January 15, 2021