Keith Tornheim has five books: I Am Lilith; Spirit Boat; Can You Say Kaddish for the Living?; Fireflies; Spoiled Fruit: Adam and Eve in Eden and Beyond. Poems have appeared in Ibbetson Street, The Somerville Times, Boston Literary Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review and Poetica.
I hate Jews.”
In the tenth grade, three days a week,
I walked though the high school halls
in the middle of the day,
on my way downtown
to a course at the university.
I became friends with the senior student
who patrolled the high school halls—
once I showed him my official permission—
and sometimes we chatted on my return
as I waited for the start of my next class.
One day I said something
that indicated I was Jewish.
His inner wheels turned slowly,
grinding on an inconsistency.
“But I hate Jews,”
he responded, clearly puzzled,
“…but I don’t hate you.”