Andrew Sunshine

The Pool We Should Have

Who can retell

Half a century on

Nights of disputation and rancor

Sectarian strife

All about a swimming pool?


Behind the sanctuary and the school

Beneath the weeping willow by the carriage house

Between the parking lot and the rows of stones dabbed with white paint

Where the shul’s land borders

the parochial school’s

Was there enough space?


                    O ner tamid

                    Who stares down upon

                    The covered heads of my people

                    In disbelief!


Meanwhile the war. A plane

Is hijacked the Treasurer of

The Men’s Club and his family

Are on board. Assassinations.

Show trials in Iraq. Some are hung

Some have their hands lopped off


                    O pool of unbroken waters

                    Gazing to the sky

                    In the crook of the willow’s arm

                    Shielding you from the parkway roar

                   And the jangle of shopping carts

                   Across Daitch’s parking lot

                   O field of stars


A hydraheaded argument

Whose argument prevailed? Who was it?

Who today remembers, fifty years on? Who can tell

Whether this triumph was the crown of a career of ceaseless battle

Or the first glimmer of a rising star?


                    And who remembers you, great willow

                    Menorah of green light

                    Held upside down to the dark earth and the bright pool,

                    Who gave you your light?



Andrew Sunshine is the author of Andra moi (Ambitus Books). His poems and prose have recently appeared in Speculative Non-Fiction, Toho Journal, and Map Literary, among other journals. He is co-editor (with Donna Jo Napoli) of Tongue’s Palette: Poetry by Linguists and editor of The Alembic Space: Writings on Poetics and Translation by Joseph Malone (Atlantis-Centaur, 2004 and 2006 respectively). I live in New York City with my wife and (when they are passing through) my sons.

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