Jerome Rothenberg

1931 / New York City, New York

Der Gilgul (The Possessed)

1

he picks a coin up
from the ground

it burns his hand
like ashes it is red

& marks him as it marks
the others hidden

he is hidden in the forest
in a world of nails

his dibbik fills him
2

Each night another one would hang himself. Airless boxcars.
Kaddish. 'What will they do with us?' The brown & black
spots on their bellies. So many clothes. The field was littered.
Ten thousand corpses in one place. Arranged in layers. I am
moving down the field from right to left—reversing myself at
every step. The ground approaches. Money. And still his great-
est fear was that he would lose his shoes.
3

earth, growing fat with
the slime of corpses green & pink

that ooze like treacle, turn
into a kind of tallow

that are black
at evening that absorb

all light
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