Adolescent Passage to England

In our tiny, hot apartment,
opening the covers of a novel
set in England
was like opening the doors
of an imagined country church: 
              steeped quiet
              cool stone
              in an Anglican repose.

Our steaming Bronx was India
to England's chilled cucumber
sandwiches on pared
white bread,

and I a colonial—a Jewish colonial—
longing for novel indoors weather: crumpets, Bovril;
upper lips stiff as brollies
drying at the door,
a nice gas fire,
mauve flocked wallpaper,
and wassailing (but what
was wassailing?)

Snuggling up in the pages
was brilliant as a teapot
hugged by its own cozy,

cushioned as Jane Eyre
in the red-curtained

open as moor-skies
scudding dark with brief
radiance, clouds limned
with gold leaf.

All flushed with mother's
forehead kisses, spit-licked
eyebrows, thick Yiddish
love and scoldings,
I disappeared behind crisp
pages, descending deep
into the bracing
gloom, and fell
in love with the exotic
snug, many stories

– judy kronenfeld