Names

by Stephen Wilson

London, 1954

On Fridays just before sunset,
mother lit candles for the Sabbath.
We thanked the King of the Universe
for the fruit of the vine, the gift
of bread from the earth, the beauty
of the day coming in like a bride.
At sunrise we woke to a stillness,
washed and reminded ourselves
there was only one God –
begged that our lips be opened,
our mouths declare His praise.
Clad in our best for synagogue
we walked the three-quarter mile,
my father’s trilby, my school-cap
raised in unison to ladies passing by.
A silk tallith draped over his shoulders
like the stole on a ball-gown,
Rabbi Rabinovitz unfurled the scrolls,
a silver finger pointing the way –
parchment teaming with tiny black fauna,
each one with a pop-star’s quiff:
,dal eht otnu dnah yht htrof hcterts ton oD
.mih otnu mrah yna uoht od rehtien
After the service I ran home through the playing fields of Gladstone Park,
passing ruffians calling – Jew, Jew-boy.