Grapes of Wrath
Once I loved a Jewess,
Tenderly and fair.
I was her gentle gentile,
She my queen with raven hair.
She fed me cheese and crackers,
We followed mountain streams.
We slept outside on winter nights,
And traded smoky dreams.
We cried outside a movie —
Our comfort caused us shame —
Mascara stained my sweater black,
I whispered close her name.
But when I loved another Jew,
She could not understand.
She thought he’d died in Palestine
When Romans ruled the land.
I sometimes think I see her still
Though many years have passed.
A glimpse of black hair in a crowd
Still makes my heart beat fast.
Notes: I’m not sure when I first noticed the new-fangled way to refer to B.C. and A.D. as Before the Common Era and Common Era. Wikipedia tells us that the expression was used as far back as 1615 (A.D.), to emphasize secularism.
Strictly for me, “B.C.E” and “C.E.” have always seemed like just one more feeble attempt to be politically correct. And political correctness gives me hives.
But, no matter. I have my own ways of marking time. I have a B.C. and A.D. of my own. One cold February day in 1972 marks that dividing line for me. I guess if you personalized them with my name, you could call them “B.B.C.” and “B.A.D.”
I also observe another, alternate. personal calendar that revolves around a different landmark of my life, that being when I found my wife. There is “Before Jan” (B.J.), and “After Jan” (A.J.) If you’ve been following this blog and reading the poems, you understand the significance.
This poem is definitely a B.J. era poem, and it straddles my personal B.C./A.D. divide. It has been consigned to a dusty old notebook for decades without seeing the light of day. In the midst of a recent guileless moment, I recited it to my wife. She encouraged me to publish it.
While the drama in this little poem was a big deal at the time, I must say that I’ve pretty much made my peace with it now.