Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

First Fruit (And Aftermath)

How is it I glimpse you at moments unforeseen and now suddenly often
fleeting you flit through my neon nights and zombie days
you whose name I may never have known whose features are a blur
as I replay crystalline the absence of words in the car
on the way to the other side, your fist at ease over the stick shift
the knots beginning to coalesce in my belly’s basement

so that scouring the dishes in the latter day
the steel wool begins to fray
my hands start to chatter
I have to set down a Fire King cup sea foam spinning
clutch the rim of the sink
steadied somehow by asterisks of steel wool drifting across worn steel

how is it that I remember instead pain searing altogether unprecedented
the bludgeoning of desire into ashes the blossoms ripped scattered
the cherry tossed into garbage etc. etc. without ado without letup
despite screams severed at the mouth imploring derailed
weeping to no avail surely a body cannot withstand this
wondering is this where it all ends just as it is beginning

so that nearly a quarter of a century later
I still flinch at touch unexpected, resist the call to remain,
flee repeatedly as if to banish that moment when I failed to flee
could not dislodge the tonnage, the force that had discovered me
the ingénue in the shadows who had mustered late the courage
to sit at the soda fountain counter of breathtaking fulfillment

how is it that one night gone very awry is accorded so much sway
it ought not be so it could have been so much worse after all
why pen these words for such things are surely best left … only here they
are, these words that necessarily approximate, inevitably fall short into
hodgepodge, lead me to pause the record so scratchy, to find the flashlight,
to part the cobwebs, to never locate you wherever you may be, to stagger
towards letting go


Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of Prodigal Children in the House of G-d: Stories (Austin Macauley, 2018) and six books of poetry, including A Mouse Among Tottering Skyscrapers: Selected Yiddish Poems (Bibliotek fun der haynttsaytiker Yidisher literatur/Library of Contemporary Yiddish Literature, 2017), Prayers of a Heretic/Tfiles fun an apikoyres (Plain View Press, 2013), What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (Parlor Press, 2008), and The Insatiable Psalm (Wind River Press, 2005). Preparing to Dance: New Yiddish songs, a CD of nine of his Yiddish poems set to music by Michał Gorczyński, was released in 2014. Taub was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award. With Ellen Cassedy, he is the recipient of the 2012 Yiddish Book Center Translation Prize for Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories by Blume Lempel (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016). His short stories have appeared in publications such as Hamilton Stone Review, Jewish, The Jewish Literary Journal, Jewrotica, Penshaft: New Yiddish Writing, and Second Hand Stories Podcast. His website: To read more by this author: Yermiyahu Ahron Taub: Mapping the City Yermiyahu Ahron Taub: Fall 2011