Preface To A Long Poem About Death
I used to believe we're born once and die.
I was pretty young then and didn't know what death was—
Maybe bullets from a machine gun on a TV show,
Which I thought I could put my hands out to stop.
Our Rabbi never spoke of death
Except in the Friday services
When the organ would play background music
And a hush blanketed the congregation
At the word 'Yisgodol', which began Kaddush.
Christians sometimes ranted about death and Judgment,
But that was a parallel world, I was a reform Jew,
One of the ones who wore a red cape for Christmas carols
But never sang on the word 'Christ'.
We believed the Russians would come one night
In their planes, dropp bombs and kill us all,
I asked my dad and he said yeah, it would happen.
What I worried about, though, was not death
But the possibility I'd be on the toilet
When the sirens went off, and my family
Would already have left town by the Emergency Route.