The Klezmer Clarinet – Mel Goldberg

In the tornado of time that is Chicago
on a Friday evening after work,
I run down the subway stairs
to catch the Blue Line to take me home
in time for kiddush.
As I reach the bottom of the stairs I hear
a klezmer clarinet wailing in a minor key and
I stop for a moment to listen.
As my train arrives, the doors open and
and in the dim light  I step into a moving time machine.
I cannot explain what happens to me except
I began to think about the haunting sound
so discordant to the setting and I
imagine the Romanian shtetl.
my grandmother’s village of Reghin
and yeshiva boys running with bouncing payas
and the wooden pews in the synagogue
and the siddur with my grandmother’s name,
Moriozne, inside, a name she refused to use
after she immigrated to the United States.
She said my father was born there
in the foothills of the Tranylvanian Alps,
not far from the castle of Vlad Tepes and she
could name all the Romanian castles
which my brother and I often asked her to do
and she would sing in Yiddish as we sat
around the dinner table on Friday nights.
But after that redoubtable woman passed and
the memories are all I have, I wonder
what lonely notes will speak to my children

Mel Goldberg and his wife lived in a small motor home for seven years, traveling the US, Canada, and Mexico. They currently live in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico (near Guadalajara) but maintain a Texas mail address.

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