OCEAN PARK, CALIFORNIA 1950
for my grandfather
The old men in yarmulkes
sit at card tables, flimsy, unstable
in the wind.
After the wars, after the pogroms,
pinochle and borscht at noon.
Ocean and fog. The smell of fish
from the market. Synagogue steps
the color of salt.
Across town the bells of Saint Monica’s
chime the hour.
The old men remember village bells
at Easter how the bells sang
“Christ killers. Christ killers.”
How soon after Church bells
the Cossacks came.
The old men in yarmulkes still hear
the horses hooves
the hiss of houses on fire.
Salt from the ocean on their lips,
the old men in America,
stare at the sea,
hear the prayers of waves.
Penny Perry has been widely published as a poet, most recently in Lilith and the San Diego Poetry Annual. Her fiction has appeared in Redbook and California Quarterly. She was the first woman admitted to The American Film Institute screenwriting program, and a film based on her script, A Berkeley Christmas, aired on PBS.
A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee in both fiction and poetry, she was born and raised in Santa Monica, the setting for her first collection of poetry, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012), available at Amazon via CreateSpace.