Glass beads fall from these old jeweled hats
he'd stuff into his selling suitcase,
carry home to Mother, his sometime
wife—gifts to quiet complaints of loneliness.
I'm surrounded by women was dad's lament
but at dawn he headed for his factory, opened up
for his hundred piece workers. Preferred
their noise to ours. They were his girls.
We were his women—
There is no rising now, no hope the rabbis
spoke of when they came to our apartment
to berate him for his failings in the faith,
reminded him his grandfather was
the wisdom-rebbe in the Polish village
of his birth, his grandmother, a healer,
her potions brewed from greens
in adjacent woods dense enough
to shield the family for escape.
No woods on Delancey Street, New York,
America. And dad was through with shul.
On holy days he made us stay indoors.
But when he could, he treated us to Sunday
dinners at the Chinese restaurant and trips
way out to Jones Beach where the city ended
and he could brave the big waves. Some days
he'd take me to his factory. Disembodied
wooden heads and hats in stages of completion
mingled with chattering Spanish 'girls'
at the rows of sewing machines.
Blossoms spread along the brims, folding
on themselves, pinks, yellows weeping
into brown. White straw dull as rotted teeth
crumbles, brittle as remains.
- Poem by Rosalind Brenner
One of of 20 Poems and 20 Paintings published in Rosalind's book All That's Left