March 07

At the Mikveh, Age Four

Maureen Sherbondy

For weeks my brothers flooded me
with tales of drowning,
said the special pool was where
young girls sank
and did not rise again.

When we appeared at the mikveh &
attempt to quell the swell
of non-Jewish blood swimming
through our veins,
I planted myself upon a bench
refusing to budge from my position.

Wanting to live no matter
the future cost. In my heart
I was a Jew, this I knew,
no ceremony could make it so.

Better to stay than to go.
While brothers and mother
vanished under water
and prayers rang out in the rooms,
Alone, I remained wordless, prayerless
still and silent as a stone.



Maureen Sherbondy's poetry has appeared in Poetica, Feminist Studies, 13th Moon, European Judaism and other journals. She lives in Raleigh, NC.