My every effort to fit has been farshtunkene,
even my effort to learn the words
never spoken at home while I was young.
Now I collect Yiddish at weddings, baby showers,
funerals, the places my aging relatives gather
to kvetch and rehash what they could have buried with their parents.
This is how some people work:
the reality doesn’t surface until the surface erodes.
My mother is a scratch-off ticket
her mother found on the ground
that didn’t pay out
what her mother wanted of her.
Before the wedding I dreaded,
before the too-tight dress, I saw
a picture of myself from six years ago,
I mourned the body that has since spread
like cookies in the oven.
I can’t re-stich what has morphed into something else entirely.
I’ll never pay out what my mother wanted.
She said, “I’m so proud of you, you’re so beautiful—”
and for a moment I wanted to just
volcano the shit out of everyone,
to pick open all my scabs, to turn myself inside out
but this was a wedding and my dress was far too tight.
My shoes, everyone reminded me,
were reminiscent of a 12-year-old at a bat mitzvah.
The whole affair was farshtunkene.
My shoes were the most real thing there.