David Hickman

Marc Chagall

They made a crime

of my Jewishness.

But it was love

that determined

my life as a Jew.

I painted

the ghettos

of Moscow and Vitebsk

the songs and laughter

a pogrom

might displace --

fiddlers in the air

and dancing maids.

Beauty was my poise

inside despair

in a sky so blue

only a wash of violet

could caress the paterfamilias

it held

--the charms of a peasant

dancing above the house--

with one heel cocked,

and his blue knee bent.

But war made a mockery of my


Though each noble misery

adorned by light

each latticework

each horse

each shining night--

Seemed entirely


by history’s


And love lived richly

in poverty’s house

amid the floating shapes

of whimsy and pain.

The face above the village

of a fiddler

of green

turning silence into


to anoint

the rain.

Though in the White Crucifixion

there was something else.

--How a war

against the real

could usurp

a people.

That only a monster

Could machine such a fate,

making ashes

of the Shekinah

and the hope

that adorns

love’s holy face.

So I painted the Kristallnacht.

as if the glass were still breaking.

With the pale Jew,


on the cross

of our pain.