Scene from Yom Kippur 1972

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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It's Yom Kippur
this screaming hot day
in Chicago 1972.
An intermittent parade
of orthodox men are walking
in silence to synagogue,
foreheads bright
with sweat.

They're in uniform,
black hats, black coats
over their shoulders,
continents of sweat
breaking through
white shirts,
black ties stirring
in the breeze.

Five older men
have canes.
Two others
on walkers
have snakes
on their forearms,
reptiles from Auschwitz,
Belsen, Treblinka.

The numbers
in each tattoo
may be different
but the snakes
are as much
part of their uniform
as black hats,
black coats and black ties
on this screaming
hot Day of Atonement
in otherwise
oblivious Chicago.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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