The Saddle Maker
cousins in South Africa,
in Russia, The Middle East,
footprints in different shades of earth.
My Dad told
me the story, how
we all got
here, in bits
leather and scrap metal,
Kiev and the house of the saddle maker.
great grandfather bought hide and steel,
stitch worked to perfection,
of color soaked into the skin, the horn
polished, billet strap woven by hand.
saddle was ready, it was carried to the market.
work tightly knit and caressed.
Blevins, the Swell, the signature Concho;
all fit for
the ridding horse of a Czar -
for enough to last another year.
the market fell on Yom Kippur,
great great grandfather refused to go.
that night was quiet, and the saddle maker’s
children exchanged stares, eating until painfully full,
the upcoming year.
was once a mountain in my backyard,
would roam and conquer,
stretched out past my property,
a vast, desert wasteland.
traveling companion was six years old
We met in
She wore a
purple hair band
The day she
asked me about God.
And my Dad
told me that God was in everything.
that God made things alive.
that God was everywhere.
told me that if God were everywhere,
could find him,
mountain out back,
spread and poised.
to touch him.
quick” she said.
I ran over
to her -
froze in a spot in the air.
by miles of grey trees and dead grass,
I put my
fingers near hers,
struggled to feel what she did,
couldn’t close my eyes to concentrate,
take them off of hers,
glowed a sharp green and exploded,
rainforest. Like a holy land.
smiled her little, wonderful, secret smile as she spoke,
through the front door
As if he
did not live in our house
thin and tan in places
smelled like the wind.
mom hated to
And he told
me to do my homework.
sat next to me
promised that all of this was temporary.
remember if I believed him
For a year,
or a day, or just for that moment,
But soon he
truly did not live in our house.
And when I
say I forgive you, Dad,
It does not
mean I forgive you all at once.
everything that followed
fell to pieces
And I am
still finding them
In me, or
Mom, or you.
The way I
press my hands together until my joints ache
glass Yin Yang in the corner of the window in my mom’s living room
The way you
don’t do favors for women you really like
pieces cannot be glued back together
down into dust that dissolves into the wind on your jacket.
pieces that remain pieces.
each one I find
will take years
promise, I will find them all.
I was late
for class again,
But I still
made my way leisurely through the snow
knocking quivering patches of ice and examining their size and shape
fell into little clear puddles
when I saw the swastika
heavy boots on the great white lawn
massive broken “X” or a lost puzzle piece,
for me to keep quiet -
moment, I didn’t want to be a Jew anymore,
So that the
Nazi thing in the snow would have no power
Over me and
my family, and I could just erase it and be displeased.
But I can’t
explain why I couldn’t simply knock it into powder
Like I did
before with my tiny, shiny, new boots.
yourself in a little room with a door and a sofa,
And a TV
set with a remote control,
And you sit
on the sofa,
And you let
out a sigh,
exhausted from dying,
the power button on the remote control,
To see what
channels they get here,
shows a fetus in a womb,
voices from outside talking about names they like,
kicks around a bit and a shadow is cast on it,
shape of a woman’s hand,
that,” you say,
this fetus move and begin to hear,
day, you see your mother,
that, too,” you say,
watching and remembering,
You cry and
laugh and feel proud,
all of your most joyful moments,
And all of
your most painful moments,
yourself do foolish things,
understand why you did them,
yourself do admirable things,
and a lifetime passes and you see yourself die,
realize that what you just saw was the greatest story you had ever seen,
again, see a fetus in a womb,
one is different,
It is the
life of your mother,
her eyes you watch her entire life,
You cry and
laugh and feel proud all over again,
her for a lifetime,
understand her completely,
watch her die,
her enter a room identical to yours,
through the door of your room and enter hers,
just finished watching your life,
The two of
like the release of dying,
like the release of being born,
both sit back down and watch another life,
And at the
end of each life a door is opened,
people come and embrace and sit together to watch more lives,
the lives of the ones that hurt you,
the lives of the ones you hurt,
again, there is only love between everyone in a little TV room,
watch lives together,
that your life affected the course of theirs,
meet for the first time in a little TV room and sit together,
everyone cries together,
everyone laughs together,
everyone, eventually, is filled with pride,
that you have yet to see the life of someone truly evil,
is only understanding,
everyone who has ever lived and died fits comfortably,
In a little
together you watch the future lives,
of sons and daughters,
of grandsons and great granddaughters,
you experience life after life,