Sandy Solomon: Jewish Immigrant, Michigan, 1885
The boy, alone in a new landscape on the Sabbath,
loafs along a dirt road when he spots,
amidst mustardy pink grasses, tall
and undulating, a glint, a maverick light,
and stoops for its source among the stalks: a knife,
wood handle smooth against his palm,
grain oiled by long handling, blade
tarnished but true.
Though he knows, Carry nothing
on the Sabbath, he wants the way he’ll want only
a few times in his life; hurting with want
for some improbable, immanent change, something
his, as he turns the knife in his hands and turns it;
warms it until his own heat comes back.
He knows what his father would say—Throw it back—
so he flings it away, watches it twirl as it falls,
like a star arcing over the stirring grasses.
And yet he cannot leave it at that: he must run
to find it.
When next he throws the knife, he throws it
straight, blade burying in the rutted road.
Again, he’ll pick it up, again hurl it,
seeking and finding the object of desire, following
what he’s found until it takes him home.
Copyright 1996 Sandy Solomon. From Pear, Lake, Sun (University of Pittsburgh, 1996).
Sandy Solomon teaches at Vanderbilt University.