'THIS IS WHAT WE WERE'
In the Cedar Park Cemetery, in Westwood,
New Jersey, the Lower East Side
lives again. Walking
down Row 6, you can see the tenements,
the hustling streets, the packed humanity,
crying Hot knishes! Tea! Pretzels!
You can almost smell the pickled herring.
In block 10 of the Workmen's Circle plot,
the cloak makers in the Yiddish theater
group rehearse and the Yarmolinets landsleit branch
will be meeting again, as they shall
for all eternity, while over there in block 19
the women hem stitchers will protest, once more
and forever, the price of bread, and my
grandmother will keep playing her Golden Age
Center bingo until the sun burns out in
the sky. This is what we were,
in this dense community at rest,
a vast stonehenge left for future generations
to decode. No, this is not Mt. Auburn,
with its rolling hills
and flowering trees.
No ethereal resurrections will amaze
this graveyard of organizers,
whose coffins cannot contain
the restless dreams that give
even Death good cause to fear.
That night, silently, I watched
the TV news report earth tremors
across northern New Jersey.
All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter