Abe, (like his new country)
was a mixture of contradictions-
a union member fighting for democracy in the workplace-
a dictatorial patriarch of his Brooklyn family,
waging a war against toys.

A miniature tea set made of white china rimmed in gold-
a pair of roller skates that locked with a key-
all gifts the children received from relatives disappeared.

Murray (and other small boys) ended up in jail
for playing with bottle caps they’d stolen.
Abe intended to let him spend the night.

Although reading met his approbation,
it was also subject to his rules.
Too much reading, and you would need glasses.
He’d stand outside looking up at the windows
to catch someone reading at night.

Inside his mausoleum-like bookcase,
behind huge volumes of never-opened Yiddish books,
Abe buried the children’s things-
the toys he disparaged
along with the medals of excellence he cherished.

 

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