Klezmer Music on Christmas Eve

Christmas, 1999 / No. 3

Away from the reindeer and the tinsel

Jewish singles congregate

searching for that elusive Other.

And the faith is incidental to most of the secular Jews

who are looking for old-fashioned love

with all the trimmings.

Brimming with earnest hope

and cynical voices,

no, I never come to this sort of event—never.

This last, of course, said behind artfully painted red lips,

poised demurely, meeting a coffee cup, still smiling.

We’re in group denial; we are here, but we aren’t really here.

My friend dragged me along, didn’t tell me what it was.

Though it’s obvious we are all hungry,

we’ll die before we admit it.

If life were a perpetual single’s buffet, I’d throw up from the indecency of

all that misplaced desire.

Inside of a fortress of insecurity we keep on smiling,

desperately smiling.

I never want to pack myself in leather again, provoking the shy with my cleavage.

I never want to expose myself to all that taut misery again,

hope contracted so tight

you can hear it snap when it breaks.

Myna Wallin lives in the Annex. She is the author of A Thousand Profane Pieces (Tightrope, 2006). Her work has appeared in The Algonquin Square Table Anthology, Blue Ruin, Eye, The Incredible Journey of the Instant Anthology, Pan del Muerto, and Just Us. Last updated summer, 2006.