(or, you can’t dance at two weddings with one tuchas . . .)
The first Passover after her mother’s death, Our Heroine -
still hugely pissed at Whoever-Is-In-Charge-Of-The-System -
still in turmoil, ceaselessly seething,
refuses to make the seder on her own and decides, instead, to run away from home.
She cares not about the opinion of family and friends.
It doesn't matter what other people think, they seldom do,
says her Evil Inclination.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should,
says her Good Inclination.
Screw you both, says Our Heroine and flies the coop, a study in Don’t. Grow. Up.
The April wind on Biloxi Beach blows close to her ear, asking,
Where’s your sweater, girl?
You chicks from up north think it’s warm here in April.
Shoulda stayed in Egypt.
Our Heroine does not respond.
She knows sometimes its better to just remain silent, and smile.
To heed Juana’s warning,
En la boca cerrada, no entran moscas.
On Biloxi Beach this Passover, gulls stand in groups on the sand.
Our Heroine, behind her shades, sees what she sees.
College girls on spring break dash from cabanas in bikinis shrieking,
How do I look?
You'll pass, in a crowd.
Such damning-with-faint-praise, a souvenir from Gramma Davey who, every Thursday, beheaded chickens in the shed.
The girls stand on thin legs at the water’s edge, hopping from foot to foot.
Which one, Our Heroine wonders, will be Nachshon?
Colossal yellow caterpillars inch along Biloxi Beach. Their bodies heave over the sand. Their tracks are giant zippers, deep and long, pulverizing shells, pushing slimy feathers, making the beach bigger for the folks who come in summer to drink beer at the faded pink and turquoise Hurricane Shack.
This is not the Red Sea.
This is not the Hebrews wandering the desert.
This is not matzah balls and gefilte fish.
This is Crawfish Festival,
fried, etouffee, smoked in burgers, stuffed in pies.
This is K99 Country, Mel Tillis,
and yes, Ruby took her love to town and broke your heart,
but this is my foot, and it still hurts, goddammit.
At the Quality Inn, Our Heroine sticks her finger in the eye of tradition
and breakfasts on pancakes, waffles, French toast.
She eavesdrops on other diners.
Pregnant? Damn. Ya just never know what the future holds.
He’s leaving you for LuAnne? I imagine you said (inaudible).
At Lillie's Asian Noodle House, her fortune cookie reads,
In life, to give is to get.
A collaboration, surely, between Confucious and the Talmud.
The balcony of her motel room overlooks a parking lot. She squints her eyes,
tries to trick the Harleys, vans and pick-ups into papyrus feluccas sailing down the Nile.
On her left, on her right, polyester migrants from Michigan and Iowa sit, leaning
toward the sea. Their butts on white plastic K-Mart chairs, flip-flopped feet propped on the iron rail, their bourbon in styrofoam cups. Marlboro ash on shirtfronts in a lacework of coherence.
This is not bitter herbs or shank bone. This is not four cups, four sons, four matriarchs. This is one little kid still scared by the Angel of Death. This is the simple child with questions she does not know how to ask, who never loved her mother more than right this very minute.
copyright 2017 Ozzie Nogg