A living man, a cunning man
whose curiosity, dispassion --
the putative crime of gawking
surreptitiously from the aisle of plastic knives --
I wondered whether she,
clearly from Africa, was dragging her leg
because of a question put strongly
because of an impatience about something at stake.
You know, in the old days -- harried from the shtetl,
railed forth from formal schooling at Berlin --
they stood footsore in the camp dust, soon barbered
of their long locks afforded for the dolls of lucky girls.
And cunning men, tired of their passion
in the afterhours of exquisite music and talk
of the freeing-up of humankind,
connived efficiencies unthought-of regarding skin.