25th Pome for Savta Lil

by Jerard Fagerberg


The silver broke
and Savta’s ring fell from your neck
pinging off the curb, rolling into the sepulchral
black of the autumn night
and the yelp leapt from your lip
as you held the broken strand in your palm
in lifeless disbelief
like a childhood pet you were wishing back to life
and the neighbors came out on their hands and knees
with flashlights and good intentions
and a yelp leapt again
when Peter found the ring in a coarse tuft of city grass
next to the shark’s tooth you always wear with it
because Savta wasn’t playing
when she said she’d guard your heart

Keep Savta close to your heart, darling
keep her alive, awake, and bearing her tooth
you need her to remind you that love can be a closed circle
and that it does not die with the body
and that it is often gold
because both are great clichés
and, though silver may break with age,
love does not have the same way

Do not let autumn fill you with doubt
or know that winter is his loud older brother
and is much more to bear
and that the wind cannot forgive
when they drink together
Know that the ring around your neck
will never shrink to fit your cigarette fingers
because Savta’s hands were big
like love’s should be

But one day there will come a man
who will pluck it from your chain
and send it sweetly to you knuckle,
though it will knock like a horseshoe, it will fit
and the winters will be calm
and you will no longer be afraid of autumn
or the wind in any season
or the black and how it steals things
and the children will call you Ima
and their children will call you Savta

True as gold, darling,
your Savta will lie
awake on your breast
until your smile calms her to sleep

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