Shabbat Comes Over West Philadelphia
Shabbat comes over West Philadelphia
on quiet wings. As the sun heads off into
the higher numbers, up from Center City
comes the night. Street lights hum on.
Cars click slowly into spots on this block
or the next while someone stretches out
on a bench in Clark Park, the ongoing
sound of the basketball not a rhythm but
a cadence. Dinner time comes to kitchen
after kitchen. People go in to their food
and television, and those who come out
again take to the steps for an evening of
nothing much. They watch that nothing
much. It never gets all the way dark here,
the light is the orange grease they pop
corn in at the movie theater, but it's dark
enough that faces go over to further and
further shadow. Buses and trolleys. It all
continues, slower and slower, until the
only things moving are the raccoons, the
stray cats, the young men unable to rest.
One kid gets dropped at home very late.
Out of the car, up the porch steps to the
front door. The sound of keys loud on a
stilled street. He goes in without having
noticed Shabbat moving down Osage
Avenue. He wouldn't know how to find
the sound of angels within the sound of
traffic remote on another street, the buzz
of the streetlight, the cadence of the heart.
But he will.
all around this house, these
many white walls. Out back
the gray swingset fit for a child
of no size, and at the edge
of the far front yard the highway
carries its occasional traffic.
The sky is on every side of everything.
The horizon is the shuddering
of train track, the shuddering
of a line that in the middle
of the night feels all too close —
but in the day it shows us
how far we are from anything.
David Harris Ebenbach teaches Creative Writing at Earlham College. His poetry has appeared in, among other places, Artful Dodge, The Beloit Poetry Journal, and Mudfish. His first book of short stories, Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press), won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. (contact • website)