across the williamsburg bridge, turn left
to the poles, turn right for the hasidic jews.
the men glance at me, i don’t look back at them
except for once, when i get a bright smile.
the women seem to take more notice, maybe because
their children take more notice. how often
do they leave this part of the city?
clearly an outsider, though give me credit:
i wear only black and white, dark hair,
a large nose, and according to the family
rumor mill, we have some straight-from-israel
blood running through us from my great-grandfather
on my dad’s side.
the kids pile on and off the buses, and
for all i know the hebrew lettering says
“death cult” or “bridge to terabithia”.
mothers walk with their children, men
speak to each other with some matching passion,
an expensive lincoln navigator stops at
one of the nicer buildings and an expensive
man steps out.
judging by his dress, though, he is
the same as every one of the others. top hat,
all-black, sorta fat.
i’ve watched five of them, teenagers, get
berated on a train during some holiday
i don’t know what that holiday is, but
by god, if they’re not harming anyone,
why does anyone give a shit?
“don’t be sorry, be careful, before
i do something to every one of you little
that’s what the guy on the train said.
i’m fairly sure he thought the kids
were talking about him in hebrew, but
how would he know? is that any reason
to go on and on about how “you jew
motherfuckers need to
get the fuck out of here”?
i’m thinking about this as i walk
through the neighborhood, realizing i haven’t
seen a non-jewish person in six blocks,
and neither have they, except for me.
perhaps that time on the train is one of
many reasons they stick together.
i saw a young man, no older than twenty-seven,
and i thought: “without those curls, and
without the top hat, he looks identical
to EB,” a young man i played football with.
he smiled at me, i remembered that “he”
is not “they”, and “they” are not “they”,
if god says the jewish people are set apart,
they are not set apart by much, and they
are surely not set apart one step below me.