Robert Frank, Yom Kip­pur — East Riv­er, New York City, 1955, © Andrea Frank Foun­da­tion, from The Americans

Yom Kip­pur – East Riv­er, New York City” by Robert Frank. Gelatin Sil­ver Print.

In Robert Frank’s photograph

of Ortho­dox Jews at the East River

five men in fedo­ras have their backs to the camera

while a boy in a kip­pah shows his right profile

against the Brook­lyn shore.

Invis­i­ble and emphat­ic in this 1955 photograph

is the emp­ty field where Euro­pean Jew­ry used to stand.

And because all the fig­ures in the picture

are fac­ing away from us

(except for the boy in the kip­pah,

who is look­ing at something

the oth­ers are not)

we are made to occu­py that emptiness,

are fixed in it

like ghosts watch­ing the liv­ing move on.

This piece is a part of the Berru Poet­ry Series, which sup­ports Jew­ish poet­ry and poets on PB Dai­lyJBC also awards the Berru Poet­ry Award in mem­o­ry of Ruth and Bernie Wein­flash as a part of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards. Click here to see the 2019 win­ner of the prize. If you’re inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the series, please check out the guide­lines here.

Mark Lueb­bers teach­es at the Stoneleigh-Burn­ham School in Green­field, Mass­a­chus­sets; Ben­jamin Gol­uboff at Lake For­est Col­lege near Chica­go. Some­times they write poems togeth­er. Mark and Ben’s spec­u­la­tive bio­graph­i­cal verse has appeared in The Penn Review, The Blue Moun­tain ReviewEast­ern Iowa ReviewUnbro­ken, and They Said: A Multi­genre Anthol­o­gy of Col­lab­o­ra­tive Writ­ing from Black Lawrence Press. Mark’s col­lec­tion Flat Light is forth­com­ing from Urban Farm­house Press; Ben’s new book, Lives and Times, is forth­com­ing from Alter­nat­ing Cur­rent Press.