Goy Means Nation

By Josette Akresh-Gonzales

I am sick of reminding the goyim it’s Yom Kippur.
What’s that one again?
Linen, sneakers, white, the fast with no water
that’s crazy.
Have you ever done that?
I try not to be a stereotype when my sons’ soccer games
are scheduled on Yom Kippur—it’s so micro I’m not allowed to be lonely
or mad or missing New York
when I have to break the news to him,
after all what do we expect them—the goyim—to do?
Change the schedule for two out of a hundred?
Only in certain pockets are the schools closed on Yom Kippur
where you can count on maybe a few of the goyim
to know anything about you.
The only things on the top of the hill are the shul and the soccer fields
within earshot of each other,
where by some fluke
the game starts at the same time as services, so
I will follow his inevitable gaze:
just out of reach, the boys
in gray, black, and silver uniforms,
Angél with a kick,
the toe a neon-yellow
punts clear
to the sky,
ball and astroturf shine
a lure for a boy to the point of torture.
We will be fasting across from the soccer fields,
singing Aveinu Malkeinu across from the soccer fields
pleading in the voice of Isaiah: “Behold we fast…” across from the soccer fields—
and my son who loves soccer and does not believe in God?
He will hate my guts.
And I will apologize—but not do t’shuvah
how can I?
When I am not really sorry, when I know in my gut
that being a Jew is a misery and soccer is
joy
and the sky above
wants to meet him at the goal—
and joy is for the goyim,
otherwise
where will he come from?
On what field will he play
(run and play, go)
but who are his people?
Not the hasidim who picked joy
but also the ghetto.
He picked defense as his position.
But if he plays soccer on the holiest day of the year
he won’t ever know
what defense is.

© Josette Akresh-Gonzales

Goy Means Nation is now forthcoming from Lily Poetry Review, in its inaugural issue to be printed this winter.