My Friend Mary

Motherless Daughters
Never a fight in 50 years, not even once.
We’re sitting at the kitchen table
as we’ve always done – facing each other
With friendly faces, talking about our lives,
Relationships and families -
3 marriages (only 1 on her account)
4 children (only 1 on my account)
5 grand children (0 on my account).
She married a religious guy and
Proceeded with the Jewish thing,
Based in North Carolina with their own
Synagogue, rabbi, and Jewish school.
I did the sex, drugs, and rock’n roll thing, and more
In Los Angeles and Munich.
And yet… nothing has really changed –
We’re the same people we’ve always been,
Ever since we were children in Munich, Germany.
There were places, occasions, and other participants
Since the day we played dress-up, dancing around to
“It was her itzy bitzy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot bikini.”
We swam across the Wörthersee in Velden, Austria
To casually show up near a French guy (Claude) she liked -
“When a Man loves a Woman” was a new song playing on the radio.
There were teenage activities better left untold,
Occasional visits in far-away places, sometimes years apart,
Two people, so different and alike, too,
talking to each other for half a century,
offering and receiving with open hearts.
We showed up for each other’s weddings.
She supported my son’s exchange year
At Punahoo School, Hawaii (good choice).
In rehab (1999) too sick to get up, I looked at her little fax
Lying on the floor by my bed with a few kind words.
She had drawn a heart on it…
These days we’re sitting in her daughter’s house in Beverly Hills,
talking about children and aging.
It seems to me as though she had a charmed and easy life,
Pursuing with clarity, dignity, and integrity,
based on reverence for the identity of our people and
Honoring the memory of their hardships.
She encourages me for my resilience and achievements.
I had been dedicated to hedonistic pursuit of analgesia,
Struggling with consequences I didn’t see.
In my mind I can still hear her dad calling “Mary”,
When I asked for her on the phone.
My dad remembered rescuing her from a predicament
At Woolworth when we were 14 (her parents never found out).
She admired my mom who has been gone for 34 years today.
Mary’s mom is still around.
P.S. I didn’t know it then… that
her mom had been in hiding in the woods, in Poland,
When her own mother and aunt left them at Jom Kippur
To score some food and never came back, ever.
Her mom was fourteen and mom’s little brother was ten,
When they were alone and homeless in the winter snow.