Photograph by Brassai 1955

Art Institute Chicago

A Cantor deep in song of soul, lost.
Mouth open with the form of sound,
eyes closed to find the core of self
in some secret place

The black of  a yarmulke blends into
sacred shadows all around.

Standing with prayer shawl
softly hung around a neck
tilted for some call to prayer
white wool fallen over striped robes
he wears to mark the sacred nature
of his song.

A tapestry draping the edges of the ark
glows with the reflection of some light
as if a mass of candles burns just out of sight.

A silence touches some
deep fluorescence.
The corner of a painting hanging
in the synagogue, a harbor for vibrations
of his song
suddenly becomes a window revealing clouds
against grey sky
the darkness behind the covering on his head,
the plump seat back
with white cover meant
to keep the tops of
those upholstered banquettes
of old trains
safe from grime of endless hands.
The tapestry, a fine coat draped
over a seat on which he leans,
belonging to a woman facing him
we do not see.

His sleep is one of dreams.
His mouth open
in that lovely relaxation
of old men.
The clacking of a train we do not hear
a sense of revelation
and that peculiar ecstasy induced
by long train rides
taken through an unfamiliar


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