Chaya Herszberg: אַ כּלה מיידל (A Kale Meydl)

Chaya Herszberg reading ‘A Kale Meydl’

I was born in a pack of eight
and Mum, she plait her חלה
with six strands, two
gracefully ordained our table when
the clock chimed
שבת

Behind candles Bobby loves me,
she said, אַ זיס מיידל, אַ שיין מיידל
But now she says, אַ כּלה מיידל
דו וועסט זײַן אַ כּלה מיידל
!איך וויל נישט זײַן קיין כּלה מיידל
I don’t want to be! I don’t want to be!

I tried to suck the פאַרעוו out
my big brown eyed existence
Blew the dust off a גמרא and
followed in painted nails
?נישט קיין ייִנגל

When פּסח came around we
swam in the theatrics of bondage,
celebrated loosened fetters and
mourned ancient knots untied.

We collected Nana’s tears and
soaked a potato in it.
A swastika in nightmares
an overstocked fridge by day.

I’ll grow old in rolled קניידלעך
and my Bobby’s dying wish,
composed in a left-handed language
…איך ווייס נישט, איך ווייס נישט


Transliteration and Glossary


Chaya Herszberg is a passionate and curious aspiring writer, currently studying at the University of Melbourne working towards a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Philosophy and Creative Writing. Chaya was born to a Habad family and has lived in Melbourne, Australia all her life. She attended school at Beth Rivkah Ladies College and spent a year in Israel prior to university learning Talmud, Bible and Jewish philosophy at Midreshet Lindenbaum. Chaya received first prize in the Glen Eira City Council’s My Brother Jack Secondary School Poetry Award in 2012 and a commendation for her poem ‘Memories of a Colder April’ as part of the 2015 My Brother Jack Caulfield Park Community Bank Branch Open Poetry Award.

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