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The way this strange, non-English wish commuted in a grandmother’s Yiddish mouth, zay gezunt, upon leave taking, go in good health. Or with an edge—oh you think selling those combs to your friends’ll make you rich? Zay gezunt, good health to you! (implicitly: You fool!). Hear these queer syllables confusing zay for gay, laughing when the old lady takes a “zip” of her coke. So foreign, like the old man so thick with meanness, his father, Sigwart on the wall with great aunts and uncles. Who got out? It’s a risk to say anything these days, a club of greedy orders filling filthy, peppery mouths. Even noodle that simple word away from death, sounding authentic in foreign language class where they memorize declension charts including die to know who is doing what to whom.
Copyright 2020 Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor
Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Women’s Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Barrow Street, Puerto Del Sol, and Mom Egg.