Marriage Vow
by Karen Loeb

I call each synagogue in the yellow pages.
Sometimes I get a secretary, sometimes
the rabbi. To each one I say:
Will you perform a marriage
if one of the people isn't Jewish?
Somewhere down the line a rabbi says yes.
When we meet in his office he asks us
to prepare a Sabbath dinner at home,
to say the prayers with candles lit
before our wedding ceremony.
Can you promise this? he asks.
My husband-to-be looks doubtful
but we agree. Already I'm wondering where
I can find the braided bread, the challah
and how long it will take to polish my
grandmother's tall brass candlesticks that have
sat idle for so long, brought by her from Russia,
hidden in her skirts as she wept
in her tiny space in steerage
nursing one baby, soon pregnant with another–
candlesticks that would work their way
through the years to find themselves with a
non-observant granddaughter
living in a Florida tract house
with golden shag carpet
and a next-door neighbor who
bellows orders to his wife.


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