Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He has had four poems recently accepted for publication. He has also written two published children's plays, several short stories and is presently completing his first science fiction novel. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The lullabies my mother cooed were German.
“Schlaf mein kindlein” she would softly hum,
Forbidden words she could not teach to me
Because in our house German was unclean.
The Yiddish that my father spoke came not
From Poland but from Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Yeshiva-soldier fighting World War Two.
A secret marriage that begat a son.
Conceiving me they wanted something new
To cancel all the stigmas of the past
Unfettered by the ghosts and grief of war
Hanukkah and Christmas both the same.
So what commitment was it that they taught?
Holy days ignored. Commandments, too.
Completely free, they said, yet still a Jew,
Even though the Talmud says I’m not.
The Tabernacle doors are closed to me –
Yet still I’m loved! They gambled I’d eschew
A path of faith. That my life would be safe
So long as they both lived within my soul.
I did not choose my parents but I’m glad
For who they were. Defiant, caring, brave.
One watched me with brown eyes. The other blue.
But goodness looks the same through either hue.
What was bequeathed to me I must transcend.
Despite the Law, my life is mine to choose.
Uncounted, I chant Kaddish for them both.
My twice-divided heart is with the Jews.