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Mort's Buddha
Mort's Buddha



I heard the man
before I saw him
He was kneeling
in an alley
off Broadway
and 45th Street
one summer night,
rocking back, and
forth, muttering,
"Forgive me!
Forgive me!"
At first, I thought
he was bending
over a dog, then
I thought, no, his grief
is too great: it
must be a child,
and I hurried to help.
There was no dog,
no child. The man
was bending
over his shadow,
pleading with it,
"Forgive me!
Forgive me!"


She was my mother's friend,
small and wistful.

Her husband had been gassed
at Auschwitz

and the numbers branded
on her forearm

were clearly visible.
It was years

before I could ask her
about them.

She smiled and touched my face.
"They are a sign,"

she said, "that I have been



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