1:00 AM Beneath Bronze Arches — Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

And even though she was renowned throughout the region
for her souffles supreme so sweet so savory so fluffy
some of which she filled with jams crafted from fruit—
apples, peaches, strawberries, and others—
she herself picked from orchard and patches nearby
standing or bending in the sun for hours on end to select
only the fruit at the height of perfection
and others with cheeses whose churning
she no longer had the strength to perform
but which she oversaw with a highly attentive eye

and even though her quiches were fortified with a crust
at once flaky and sturdy
which puzzled and delighted all
for she never revealed her secrets and no sous chef was ever
present for the construction of the crust
and were filled perhaps even crammed with vegetables
she herself planted and guarded
(from the animals that creep and hop around and are resourceful
despite the fences and wire mesh and even barbed wire that she did erect)
and sautéed and baked with butter and garlic and spices of all kinds

and even though everyone did think her surely a bit mad
but her food was delicious even in this region known
for the culinary arts and discerning palates
so that all of those famished for her art had to reserve a place
months in advance and even then had to wait in long lines outside
since the diners were slow to savor and did not readily
surrender their hard-won seats at her tables
and there were never any left-overs to feed the homeless
so she always devoted a day a week to serve them
in the shelter over whose kitchen she was every bit as zealous

and even though many did commend her on both her high standards
and her dedication to the less fortunate
and she was awarded many honors from the industry of her peers
and from the town in which she lived and
yes I believe also the region so famed
and the photos show her just a bit dazed averted slightly from the camera
even though she always appeared at each ceremony
and thanked profusely her admirers
of whom you know now there were legion
and she donated most of her earnings to the shelters

and even though these talents prodigious were hers
she spent her nights in a fast food restaurant in a part of town
where shootings were not uncommon and where such establishments
were often the only food sources available—the food deserts—
and there she would nurse her diet soda and her chicken tenders
and the staff would always remember her order
and she would glance at the women and often girls
of the street or interstate as it were
in various states of sobriety and duress
and the others stationary at tables but still wandering through night

and she would gaze outside the plate glass windows
at the cars racing past and glimpse beer cans gleaming in the weeds
and flyers fluttering past of lost children and men and women
of which she numbered herself
and the charm of a diner in a small town or a city was absent
no loneliness-rendered-into-more was here present
given the fluorescence and banality of the setting
and all that she remembered of her dreams colossal
which in the fever of her activity and awards engulfed and lashed her
retreated here and were replaced by grace and she could find restoration
before rising

***
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of four books of poetry, Prayers of a Heretic/Tfiles fun an apikoyres (2013), Uncle Feygele (2011), What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (2008), and The Insatiable Psalm (2005). His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Eclectica Magazine, Forverts, The Lake, Prairie Schooner, Pyrokinection, and The South Carolina Review. Tsugreytndik zikh tsu tantsn: naye Yidishe lider/Preparing to Dance: New Yiddish songs, a CD of nine of his Yiddish poems set to music by Michał Górczyński was released on the Multikulti Project label . Taub was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award. With his colleague, Ellen Cassedy, he is the recipient of the 2012 National Yiddish Book Center Translation Prize for translation of fiction by Blume Lempel. Taub recently completed an artist’s residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA).