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Poem of the Week

12 Nov

Night School

by Joan I. Siegel

(for my grandmother)

In a classroom like this one where
her children once sat fidgeting
for the bell to ring so they could grab
their jackets and shout to the cold air and sun
shining on Broadway two blocks from home
where two flights up she had set out bread
and milk on the kitchen table because
she was down the street at the tailor’s shop
turning a shirt collar or mending a man’s coat
and nights she got down on her hands and knees
to wash floors in an office building on Second Avenue
things she had learned as a girl in Poland
and brought with her a boat ride away to Ellis Island
to the man she married and soon enough
their four children (one dead)
and after he died of influenza
to the new husband and his five children (one dead)
and in time to the new daughters-in-law
and sons-in-law in their uptown apartments
and the babies one at a time
she sat practicing her Palmer letters
connecting the fine threads of ink
each graceful curve looping to the next
like crocheting a pair of ladies gloves
making words where silence used to be.

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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in poetry

 

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