Terrible were the brick bungalows
Of the Northwest Side where dwelled
The gentiles – Polish, Irish, Italian --
With their churches, softball teams,
Funeral parlors and most unnervingly
Their grim and oversized high schools.
Yet I was drawn to them: on the bus
The bra straps of girls through
Catholic school uniform blouses,
The knee socks, the graying Keds,
The overflow of emotion again
And again in anguish recollected.
American Bandstand: weekdays at four
With Carole Campione, both of us awed
By the future Philadelphia hairdressers,
And one day she showed me her rosary.
That day (oy!) we watched no more.
But I never saw her in the Kennedy years.
Some glacial high school absorbed her
And when the missile crisis came in ‘62
‘Twas another I would die for, or with –
And a Jewess! She is always in my thoughts.
But her name? No! For sayeth the Kabbalist
Rav Shimon, “Secrecy sustains the world.”
-- Mitch Sisskind