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each morning the jewish bakeries open up while it’s still dark
the first thing that runs up to you – quick as a fox –
is the scent of cinnamon – beaten eggs with sugar –
to the brick synagogues – and this is the beginning of winter
because the dough smells of pine and jasmine picked yesterday
together with garlic and onions beckoning to you from the shelves

at seven the squeaking of the locks begins
the neighing of the subway – the calls of street vendors –
carts carry fruit in line with demand and prices
and striped melons look like tigers from the side
and halloween pumpkins – like hollywood starlets
the cart-mexicans – like olympic wrestlers

and school children jump up: here’s a yellow school bus
an old woman sweeping the street – it reeks of cheap tobacco
brooklyn bustles in the morning – grumbling about loneliness
about dragonlike greediness and about illness
about a steel bridge bent like an elephant’s trunk
about this giant anthill of people once destroyed by Saturn

the hassids are like black currants – they’ve lined
                                          the branches of the synagogues
they are an aramaic grapevine the clay of uman* and the glue
the shoemaker’s thread with which the judean stitches together
                                                                           dark words  
throwing a prayer shawl over his head –
                                            god whispers something to him
and the children warble it – like birds of paradise for
brooklyn sings to him with bread and the creaking of doors
through which every jewish generation with a line
                                                                as warm as cheese
through the geometry of the kabala – through the stone of jerusalem
through the song of women in the bakery
                                                who swallowed their fill of smoke
through a wooden grogger before the sabbath – and goat’s milk
the christian goes to the bakery – the hassid to the synagogue
and – famished brooklyn – swallows its saliva

Translator's Note: * The city of Uman is in central Ukraine. It is considered a sacred place by many Jews, particularly the Hassidim. They make a pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman, buried there at his request among the Jews martyred in the town.