By Willis Barnstone
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Additional resources for We Jews and Blacks: Memoir With Poems
War tore up Europe yet here were two guys, he fifty, me a bad fifteen, on double dates all to forget our fires back home. Walking a midnight street (where gold and onyx shone behind the glass) leading to the great Zócalo, our feet in brand new leather shoes entered the mass of la gran Catedral. The Indians spoke to us in Spanish, I interpreted and Dad was proud. The saints were kind. They stared from their great Asian eyes. A little poke and Dad saved me from heaven. Wrongly dead he takes my hand again.
After Lucy left, Leah came. I was seven or eight, and she stayed about four years. It was empty after Luce went away, since she was my nurse and we were engaged. Leah’s the maid for the house, not for me. Yet there’s no one like Leah. She’s very quiet, but her brain is going like a sewing machine. She’s not too young, has a nice figure and a special sweet smell of herbs about her. I 48 We Jews and Blacks don’t know what it is, but I like it. When she finishes her work late in the afternoon before supper, she takes out one of the library books she brings with her, a novel or a “classic” as she calls it, and sits beside the broom closet and reads away.
It was one I shared with my pals, but at least our city-bound ignorance was largely positive. On the one hand, I knew nothing about Baruch Spinoza (the Spanish philosopher and lens grinder from Amsterdam) or rabbi Yeshua the Messiah from the nation of Yehuda, who was later to be historically deracinated and become famous under his Greek name of Jesus the Christ. On the other, I did learn something about later Palestine, and the pioneer settlements of the Jews. In the 1920s and 30s the idea of a Jewish state was in process, was relatively peaceful, and was characterized by utopian expectations.