East-Side: New York

Maxwell Bodenheim

An old Jew munches an apple,
With conquering immersion
All the thwarted longings of his life
Urge on his determined teeth.
His face is hard and pear-shaped;
His eyes are muddy capitulations;
But his mouth is incongruous.
Softly, slightly distended,
Like that of a whistling girl,
It is ingenuously haunting
And makes the rest of him a soiled, grey background.
Hopes that lie within their grave
Of submissive sternness,
Have spilled their troubled ghosts upon this mouth,
And a tortured belief
Has dwindled into tenderness upon it ...
He trudges off behind his push-cart
And the Ghetto walks away with him.