Leveler Poetry Journal
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My Dark, Semitic Wiles


I took my dark, Semitic wiles on the road.

The train was empty and that was lovely,

everywhere an open space. En route to Berlin,

I held the bathroom mirror and spoke

to my mother, foreign leaves of foreign trees

and the conductor’s garbled nothings

blurred above my head. She thinks I’m going

to get myself killed. Lost forever. I remember

a straight-haired little girl at the kindergarten

table with eyeglasses as petite as her pink

Polly Pocket. I crushed them in my fat hand,

arranged the lozenge lenses next to the legs,

purple plastic bird femurs. Like chicken,

I picked it apart. My fellow passengers,

the unwed Jewess rides among you, come

to tour your capital of tragedy. Love me

out of guilt like an unborn sister, a mother’s

final scowl before death, the very nose

on your face you’d hack off just to belong.

Nicole Steinberg