How I Met My Fathers

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I

There was a period of thirty years where I didn’t have a father.
I had to seek him out in Florida, the state which looks like
it fathered South America.

He wasn’t prepared for my arrival.
Tried to pretend he was someone else, or rather
I was out of my mind.

The latter may be true
but the whole thing devolved into Italian food
and then an introduction to my sister

who, ten years later
is still struggling to
come around to it.


II

My father tells me
our ancestors were not Jewish
but Italian.

This explains the pasta in 2005.
This explains why I’m the only
Lupert boy in Florida

who has ever ritually covered his head.
This explains nothing about
why my grandparents

were named Miriam and Rubin.
I never shook either of their hands.
The story of that family

a forever mystery.
If I ever find out who I am
you’ll be the first one I tell.


III

When I became a father
I stuck the name Reuben
in the middle of my son’s name.

My recently re-acquired father
was so proud of the respect shown his dad
by that move.

But my mother’s mother’s father
gets the rest of the credit.
That Reuben had a beard like Moses.

Forged in Bialystok, Poland
Fed Hebrew to the children of central New York.
That Reuben kept us all in yarmulkes.

The Reubens that were
their heads covered because
they knew nothing else.

The Reubens that are
ready to cover our heads
whenever Friday makes an appearance.

The Reubens that will be.
Their yarmulkes already being knitted
for their inevitable arrival.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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