Shapiro Psalm

by Rob Shapiro

Refuse the pogroms, your endless myth,
              why your hands are tired and raw.

Set the table and pull back the blinds—
              search me for your bloodline.

Remember your Hebrew root,
              old punch-line on your lips.

Remember my grandfather, how he changed you
              to Shaw for a year thinking it safer to lose

the Jewish name that lost him
              every relative back in Europe.

No mirrors covered, no doors unlocked.
              No way to lay you to rest.

After all you’ve endured
              tell me how you still believe in God—

how you kept warm during German winters
              marching barefoot through snow,

your short days burning down to nothing.
              I find you on Manhattan streets, in stitches

of wind raising crests across the Hudson—
              I carry you forever and into my grave.

Already carved into my grandfather’s headstone,
              are you eager for eternity to arrive?

Star of David, small stones set, frostbitten grass
              where kaddish was performed—

Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam
              ul’al’mei al’maya
—your voice

grown deeper, sounding out the words,
              learning once more how to speak.

ROB SHAPIRO is an MFA candidate at the University of Virginia where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. His work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The Southern ReviewMichigan Quarterly ReviewRiver StyxBlackbird, and The Greensboro Review. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.