I liked to tousle his wavy hair, and call him Taht, Yiddish for Dad. His eyes gleamed as if wonder nudged him with its elbow; as when a traveling salesman sold us a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. I was eleven. Taht asked me if I noticed how carefully that salesman washed his hands in our kitchen sink before touching the Encyclopedias’ pages. Gleamed as when I was forty, watching him watch the Dalai Lama on TV, Taht amazed by the holy man’s light blue calm.
When I asked him once how he’d survived the War, he snapped, “Dead stories,” his voice too soft to be angry. It sounded like sand.
Taht loved to joke, a shard of sun changing places with his mind because grief needs light to grow, even if the light is broken.
Come see Yerra read on day two of the Welcome to Boog City 16.5 Arts Festival on Sun. Feb. 19 at 1:45 p.m. at Torn Page in Chelsea, NYC. Details here:
YERRA SUGARMAN (yerrasugarman.com) is the author of three full-length volumes of poetry, most recently Aunt Bird (Four Way Books), which won the American Book Fest’s 2022 Annual Best Book Award for General Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Nation, New England Review and elsewhere. She is an American poet, essayist, and teacher, living in New York City. The daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, she grew up in a community of Holocaust survivors in Toronto, where she was born.