Saturday, February 5, 2011

Deborah Reich, poem . . . a sensible voice prays in the hat

The great thing about copyediting and proofreading, two fragile and sometimes indistinguisable functions in the corporate world, is the occasional like-minded co-worker. Deborah Reich is one. We met at a long-term job in educational publishing.

Those were the days, six or seven years ago, when it wasn't uncommon to bring newspapers to work. The online habit hadn't sunk in. We shared the Times and tabloids, edited and talked and discovered our mutual interest in poetry.

Deb's masters from Julliard wowed me. I can't imagine a better background for poetry than the precision in classical music, which jazz musicians also praise as training. 

A few days ago I asked her to send me a poem. It's a while since we worked together but email and the yearly tea keep us in touch. She informs me bensch is Yiddish for a blessing after a meal. Read inventiveness, sadness and a reaching upward.

Park Bensch

Left in the park, an elder hat?
No, a new one. Left by mistake,
From the bench, a sensible vice:

Take the hat and wear it.
It is a scary hat.
This hat needs to be licked clean
by an elder lamb.
Or watched from a distance.

It may have legs. Or fleas.

You silly. It’s a cat on the bench.
His name is Reb Kilometer.
Such a name impales interest, doesn’t it?

Left in the park, an elder’s hat?
Someone might be cold somewhere,
might need a hat, a really warm hat.
From the bench, a sensible voice
prays in the hat.
Deborah Reich, Brooklyn

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