Barbara Krasner holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an MA in History from William Paterson University. Her literary work has appeared or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Paterson Literary Review, Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, and Minerva Rising, among other journals. She teaches creative writing in New Jersey.
Bei Mir Bistu Shayn
The Andrews Sisters sing on the radio
while she poses for the photograph. She
lifts three fingers to her chin, wrist bent,
the platinum onyx-diamond ring her papa
gave her dead center. But he would never say,
“Bei mir bistu shayn.” Not one compliment.
“You should go out and change the world,”
he’d say. She’s happy enough with the ring.
Her hair’s done up Betty Grable-style
with a bit of lace like baby’s breath pinned
to her crown. The black and white photograph
will not capture her blood red nails, blood red lips.
She’ll send Milton the picture. He’ll slip
it into his wallet at first to keep it safe. She
could teach him manners. Even in that foreign
land of Jersey she knows he’ll be a good provider.
“Bei mir bistu shayn,” he’ll say to her
and mean it, his eyes misting. He encases the photo
in a silver frame against magenta foil with
a four-bullet flank. He places it
on top of the bedroom TV console.
Years later, as she lies dying at Clara Maas, I
stroke her forearms, soothe her paper-thin
temples. I call her Shayne Leah. She grasps all of me.
She watches over me from her place fronting
my dresser mirror. Mama, bei mir bistu shayn.
You’ll always be beautiful.