The Palest Settlement


Away above my  head
I see the strangest sight

My grandfather played Tevye
at least six times
At least two of my great grandpas
were milkmen
Chagall painted sets
Sholem Aleichem Evening
Reportedly hated the musical


he inspired


Settlement pale as milk
Chagall’s grandfather was a butcher (kosher)

Six years old & I tied a scarf round my head
as per both shtetl & 2006 first grade fashion
Father cried: No, Chava, no!
2018 told my grandma I went on a date with a Nice Jewish Boy
Oh I’m so happy

The Pale of Settlement
was basically the world’s largest ghetto
40% of all Jews
cows & horses & chickens
Chagall hated the color of potatoes
The home I love
far from the far from the

2019 thinking about how I took my goyische partner to a Chabad Shabbos
He put on a yarmulke
I said that’s so sexy

He once played little boy no. 2 in community theater Fiddler
Tells me here’s the manischewitz aisle
I say mm baby say it again
say what again

Matchmaker matchmaker make me
Chagall would scoff at the equation.
He wasn’t even allowed to paint his pictures
& here I came out as a nonbinary pansexual.
Vegetarian without starving. I think:

where in our bodies lives the shtetl?

noses they vilified,
the soles of feet that fled,
the hands that slit the cattle’s necks?

Life has a way of

                                           blessing, bruising.

The Einsatzgrueppen blew right through
Chagall’s Vitebsk was decimated
118 out of a hundred & seventy thousand survived
My great-grandfather pleading with his cousins

don’t                     go         home

Y’know Chagall if I were
you I would have painted
cows,  too