Coney Island Shul
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
to the place where I’m an old woman
at six or nine or twelve
floating through the years
a member unmoored