Spring 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 2 Poetry |

Pantoum for the Children, so They Will Know Yiddish

The language of parents, their pig latin, when conversation must be kept secret from children, as in shh, the kinder. . . consonants hard as a cough, a stutter. When conversation must be kept secret from the rest of the world, consonants hard as a cough, a stutter, mitn-der-rinen, in the middle of everything, a shandeh, a shame. From the rest of the world they hide their hopes, despair--sometimes the same, mitn-der-rinen, in the middle of everything, a shandeh, a shame, though nothing to kvetch about, to nag or complain. They hide their hopes, despair--sometimes the same, wishing the sweet wine sweeter, the salty no more, though nothing to kvetch about, to nag or complain. Kine-ahora, they intone, wishing the sweet wine sweeter, the salty no more, afraid to let the juice run down the chin. Kine-ahora, they intone, words to ward off the evil eye. Afraid to let the juice run down the chin, they spit on fortune, whisper pu pu, words to ward off the evil eye. People

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