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A Little History Analysis

Author: Poetry of David Lehman Type: Poetry Views: 146

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Valentine Place1996Some people find out they are Jews.

They can't believe it.

Thy had always hated Jews.

As children they had roamed in gangs on winter nights in the oldneighborhood, looking for Jews.

They were not Jewish, they were Irish.

They brandished broken bottles, tough guys with blood on theirlips, looking for Jews.

They intercepted Jewish boys walking alone and beat them up.

Sometimes they were content to chase a Jew and he could eludethem by running away. They were happy just to see him runaway. The coward! All Jews were yellow.

They spelled Jew with a small j jew.

And now they find out they are Jews themselves.

It happened at the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

To escape persecution, they pretended to convert to Christianity.

They came to this country and settled in the Southwest.

At some point oral tradition failed the family, and theirsecret faith died.

No one would ever have known if not for the bones that turned upon the dig.

A disaster. How could it have happened to them?

They are in a state of panic--at first.

Then they realize that it is the answer to their prayers.

They hasten to the synagogue or build new ones.

They are Jews at last!

They are free to marry other Jews, and divorce them, and intermarrywith Gentiles, God forbid.

They are model citizens, clever and thrifty.

They debate the issues.

They fire off earnest letters to the editor.

They vote.

They are resented for being clever and thrifty.

They buy houses in the suburbs and agree not to talk so loud.

They look like everyone else, drive the same cars as everyone else,yet in their hearts they know they're different.

In every


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