Susan Rich

Issue #
February 28, 2015


after Max Weber, oil on canvas, 1941

The room grows old in blue and green.
The men read newspapers, play cards,
debate the day’s Lithuanian flowers.
Another woman moves among tables
as the walls listen in like a chorus of bees.
In the background, a Torah barely shown—
even the artist takes off his yellow star.
And now I become the woman in the apron
waiting on the beards, the black hats—
a coded caricature of them, of me.
Is this what it means to be a Jew?
Tattered clothes and uncomfortable shoes?
Is this the way the world sees me still
and then denies it?
Outside the window and across the road
the buildings are brilliant shades,
hard lines of red and gold. No—
they’re vessels of fire, pogroms not yet told.

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