[For Yosl Bergner]
Tonight I see your blue protuberant eyes
Following your angry wife, who sweeps away,
With their perpetual look of mild surprise.
‘Nu, have another drink for luck,' you say
I settle back to let your swift talk flow
Freer with drink through the small hours till day
Reddens the bottles in your studio,
While, still unchecked, a rapid spate of words
Explains some brush-technique I did not know.
A Polish boy, you took cadaverous birds,
Perched in a burnt-out Europe, for your text,
Then came here, but kept sympathy towards
Creatures with wings, for you chose angels next,
Though different from those flaming ones that flew
Into the Bible: yours are too perplexed
Even to fly, waifs without work to do.
Yudl reproved you once, in the Cassit:
‘Your angels are not Israelis, Jew.'
No: but they are the images we meet
In every mirror: so I understand
Those helpless angels waiting in the street
For somebody to take them by the hand.
Still, hangovers won't await, so now we walk
Past herons down the beach towards liquor land.
There's not much left to talk of: but you talk,
Waving both arms, eccentric, Yiddish, free,
In your new home where tall winged creatures stalk
Between the ancient mountains and the sea.