Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The 49 Gates of Defilement, VIII

Goldfarb coaxes Sharon to bring out the bottle of schnapps from the under the kitchen sink.  He says teasingly, in mincing words that he then translated into his Galician Yiddish, and then back into English.  Sharon is not without her internal void,  the cornices and niches in her psyche untouched by the love of another, even of a husband.  Goldfarb, despite his literary dry spell, is a masterful storyteller.  He sits and spins a tale as if he was unspooling a great ball of yarn, so she can almost smell the flax of the field in the wool.  His stories are not of the Jews at the Wailing Wall or in a scorched kibbutz in the Negev, but of snow covered timber huts and swaying birch trees dappled by the weak Polish sun.  This is a world that is lost, but which Goldfarb can conjure with his words.  In a thousand Polish towns, the worn out stencil of a Yiddish sign is sometimes visible on the lintel of a door, or the remains of a synagogue or a mikveh can be located on the outskirts of the gentile village, among the broken glass and weeds.  This world has a pull for Sharon, and as Goldfarb retells tales of Chasdic dynasties at war with rivals, excommunicating each other’s members and taking each other’s wives in vengeful adultery, her defenses are razed.

When the schnapps is nearly consumed Sharon realizes that Goldfarb is on the couch next to her.  On the small balcony outside the window the snow has piled into muffling columns, snuffing the sounds of the city.  It is a poylish nakht, a polish night, and Sharon bends forward as Goldfarb takes her blond head in her hands and whispers tokhes, daughter, in her ear, and they kiss.  He places a hand over her breast, and Sharon, in deference to the sacrifice of his age, strips to her bare skin.  He climbs on her and she whispers foter, foter, foter, father, the only Yiddish word she knows.

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