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Holiday Present

My mom told me she’s a lesbian
and it rained for a week,

not because she told me she’s a lesbian
but because sometimes it just rains like that

in December, when families get together
around nine shining candles or one electrified tree

or whatever they light at the ecstatic dance solstice celebration
at Muir Woods, because it’s holiday time in the Bay

and my mom gives me a present
wrapped in a question:

Do you want to meet her?
and I want to tell her how mad I am

that she even has to ask,
but she’s my mom, so I remember

that as of last year, she’s been divorced
longer than she’s been married.

I think she went on a couple dates
a few years back, after I went to college,

but I never wanted to ask, never wanted
to know the answer, or hear that there wasn’t

an answer, because my dad
left and remarried just a little too quick,

and no, I don’t blame him for everything
but isn’t that what absentee fathers are for?

We haven’t had a holiday
together in 15 years, not since he got married

to a shiksa, and my brother married a shiksa,
and I married a shiksa

and my Jewish mother lights
the Chanukah candles by herself

mouthing the prayers silently
because Who is listening anyway?

until now, when she calls me
on a Tuesday morning in Oakland

that’s starting to drizzle an overdue rain,
and she tells me about her new love

with an unexpected joy in her voice
like an elderly Juliet gazing out her balcony

and finding her long-lost Romeo
has always been there – and her name is Romona.

Actually, her name is Leslie,
my mom laughs. Leslie the Lesbian!

I think you’ll like her, she says
with that motherly mix of confidence and faith.

She lives on Long Island,
but she talks pure Brooklyn.

and I know what that means,
so I throw my head back and laugh

like Judah Maccabee himself, running
through the streets of Jerusalem in the pouring rain

to celebrate a miracle.
Nicely done, Mom.

At least one of us
found a nice Jewish girl

to spend the holidays with.

 


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