Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

Coney Island Shul
Felicia Rose

The shul still stands

                  in spirit

A narrow wooden shack

listing against the apostasy of time.

Faithful to the odors

                 of must and cloves and port wine

It enshrines them in its walls

along with the Tree of Life plaques

                 embracing kin long dead

kin that pray there still

their wizened bodies

swaying like waves off the Coney Island shore.

Extinguished long ago, the Eternal Flame

enlightens and scorches

the interior sanctum.

The amnesic rabbi

          chants the kaddish in Yiddish and Hebrew and Babel,

and the congregants echo amen.

When they’re gone

I open the ark

and unfurl the weathered scrolls

               of recall

to the place where I’m an old woman

at six or nine or twelve

floating through the years

like driftwood

a member unmoored

and stalwartly buoyed.