"#11, From Living in the Past"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 21 2003 8:03 AM

#11, From Living in the Past

Listen to Philip Schultz reading this poem. Everyone dickers with God. Everyone gets something: Grandma gets one dead husband who does nothing but read Torah and complain, the kitchen ceiling where all her curses live rent-free, a lifetime of oy veis. … Uncle gets his wieners, eight varieties of sauerkraut, five newspapers spread over the kitchen table like a vast strategy, the Paramount screen where he pulls curtains shut on Marlena D who shaves her legs four times a day. Father gets free room and board, a coal-burner to intimidate, all the blame. Mother gets the lower left half of the icebox, where she hides bacon, popsicles, all her glee. I get the best hiding places, Uncle's girlie books, the stained glass attic window where the wind sings of inner and outer things, as Martin Buber said, what are they but things—"O secrecy without a secret! O accumulation of information!" I get faith and intuition and 5763 years of longing and despair, a passion for hearsay, boogieing, and epistemology …

Philip Schultz's memoir, My Dyslexia, came out last fall. He founded and directs The Writers Studio, a private school for writing, now in its 25th year.

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