That’s not how the word is pronounced, I hissed.
But the damage was done:
You tore the tongue out from every martyr
because you could not say the word for mustard
I taught you a week ago.
Torturing them over again
when we tell jokes about old men and fish
or different words for penis.
Am I wholly serious here? I’m not
serious enough. Reread the page.
Learn my name in the language
I want to speak. Silence
is the deadest tongue.
Zackary Sholem Berger (English blog, Yiddish blog) is a poet and translator in Baltimore who writes in Yiddish and English. His bilingual Yiddish and English book of poetry, Not in the Same Breath/Zog Khotsh Lehavdl, will be published in 2011. He and his wife, Celeste Sollod, are the forces behind Yiddish House LLC, which publishes Yiddish translations of classic English-language children’s books.