In the only old-time tailor shop still open downtown

the wife wears the style of long dark drab dress

her mother might have worn in one of the Polish ghettos

generations before Kristallnacht


Both she and her husband hang long gray swatches under

eyes that might have seen the worst of humankind,

facial expressions frozen in distrust and scorn


They still speak in thick accents spoken with no need

to be more clear


Summer or winter their arms are covered down to the edges

of their knuckles and the texture of the cloth seems as coarse

as the wood of the beams in attics in charred farmhouses

in the overgrown fields of the old country


When I stand at the worn counter she and I look down

at the dark printed numbers on my claim ticket,

and in a quiet voice that sounds of a cooing dove

in the shadows of a lost afternoon, she calls out

in a faint and mournful voice:


“Yah-coooob! Yah-coooob!

The man has come for the suit”