Mizmor L'David Anthology 

 

Poetica Magazine
                                           Contemporary Jewish Writing

LOJO SIMON is a polycreative writer, feminist and flamekeeper who works to foster radical empathy through writing, teaching, performing arts and service. Her professional roles include playwright, poet, dramaturg, teaching artist and Literary Laureate Emerita of Laguna Beach, California. www.lojosimon.com

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Coffee with Uncle Ezra
Lojo Simon



That day in the used bookstore

I bought a faded copy of Uncle Ezra Sees the Light

not because I wanted to own it

but because I didn’t want anyone else to.


Billed as A Story of Compelling Interest,

An Excellent Guide for Christian Workers

especially those dealing with Orthodox Jews

as well as Non-Jews, it bears a blue Star of David


above the author’s name on eighty-pound cover stock.

Inside, black and bold, the text: A Drama in Two Acts

and Eight Scents – a typo that makes me draw the staple-bound tract

to my face, inhale its ashen history like smoke from a crematorium


My Semitic nose pressed close to the fold, eye-to-eye

with a Cast of Characters: Uncle Ezra and the elderly Mrs. Rifkin,

the missionary Dr. Weisman, and Sollie, a silent schoolboy

who appears only once on stage to dip his spoon


in a dish of jam then immediately a tub of butter,

prompting Mrs. Rifkin to chastise him for mixing.

“Think shame to you. You should always lick your knife

before you in de butter put it,” immigrant advice intended


as moral commentary I can so confidently dismiss,

slathering butter and marmalade on marbled rye

while sitting across a sunny table from the pastor’s son

who rejects his evangelical roots in favor of breakfast with me.


I stir Uncle Ezra into my coffee, his white beard, his hooked nose,

words he is meant to utter, words he is meant to hear so he can see

the angel dancing on the ceiling, a reflection from my silver spoon.

A bitter taste in my mouth bears a strong resemblance to charcoal.