Maxwell Bodenheim

1892 - 1954 / Mississippi / United States

East-Side: New York

An old Jew munches an apple,
With conquering immersion
All the thwarted longings of his life
Urge on his determined teeth.
His face is hard and pear-shaped;
His eyes are muddy capitulations;
But his mouth is incongruous.
Softly, slightly distended,
Like that of a whistling girl,
It is ingenuously haunting
And makes the rest of him a soiled, grey background.
Hopes that lie within their grave
Of submissive sternness,
Have spilled their troubled ghosts upon this mouth,
And a tortured belief
Has dwindled into tenderness upon it ...
He trudges off behind his push-cart
And the Ghetto walks away with him.
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