The Gaumont

My Mum kissed my Dad in the back of that mosque
When it was still the Gaumont —
They went to see Laurence Olivier play a Basque
And she wound up with me after nine months

She always walks past the peeled film poster with a sigh —
“I wonder when that boy goes for a pray there
If it delivers the same high,
That same particular lost glaze when you come downstairs!”

I wonder if he knows when he Salaams
That I was once a tongue twist and a fumble
Right where he tries to feel the hum
Of the universe, I was an unexpected gamble.

And my Mum bundled me up in wool
And spoon-fed me sweet hot sugar,
And I reached my hand out and saw it all
Turn into a voice saying, “Please take your seats now.”

Back then just Dad with his hand
On her thigh in the whole world was what mattered.
Only the light and the sound
Of the screen as it winked, then guttered.

And out I came, no one’s to blame,
Nobody knows who’s a live one.
Just some go to kneel on a carpet at noon
And some feel the light all at once and turn to hear their name called.

Headshot of Atar Hadari

Atar Hadari’s “Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik” (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award and his debut poetry collection, “Rembrandt’s Bible”, was published by Indigo Dreams. “Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin” is forthcoming from Arc Publications. He is a member of the BML music theatre workshop and currently contributes a monthly verse bible translation column to MOSAIC magazine.

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