There is photograph of me as a child,
a moment caught on film
standing in the grass in front of my house.
I am five
wearing a stiff dress with crinoline
shiny new black patent leather Mary Jane’s
and a straw hat
tied under my chin.
It is Easter.
I am Jewish.
My mother worried
I would feel left out of the holiday celebrations
in our small New England town
and did it her way.
Gifts at Christmas, but no tree or tinsel.
Easter baskets, but no resurrection of Christ.
Fish on Friday, because it was on sale.
Nothing of our own traditions,
the ones passed down from slaves in Egypt,
through the Maccabees,
the burning of Temples,
the deaths of the Holocaust,
and perpetual diaspora.
There is a photograph of me with Santa Claus.
I am wearing a black velvet dress with a white bow,
an oversized ribbon in my hair.
My front teeth had grown in
too large for my mouth.
My smile, embarrassed.
Mother tucked a wallet sized
into each Christmas card she sent,
we’re not Jews.
And while we were playing on the playground,
my third grade classmate
told me the Jews killed Jesus,
I wondered why he was blaming me.
My mind was a jumble
of what I knew
and didn’t know,
and what was faith
and what wasn’t,
was simply my mother’s wish
that we would belong.
But somewhere along the way,
I knew that the collective consciousness
of being a Jew
than my mother’s confusion.
There is a photograph of me
under the chuppah,
a veiled bride in white.
When I look at it
I remember the seven blessings,
blessing us for a life together.
I circled my groom, seven times,
the formation of a new family circle.
When I look at this photograph,
I finally know who I am.