The Golem

The Golem, an artificial man made of clay, is brought to life by the fears and
anxieties of the persecuted Jew wandering where the Prague Ghetto stood.
The magic of the Hebrew alphabet - Shem (name of God) and Emet (truth) -
infuses instincts and impulses into the base clay.

They used to sell pickled cucumbers from stinking vats, waffled biscuits now
flat as lace and round as Czech crowns are pressed over sweet powder.
The vendors in aprons and caps serve from kiosks with patterned awnings.

The streets continue to run uphill to the castle which, they say, has more
than a hundred towers. I take a biscuit and walk toward the spires of the
Hradcany fortress still soaked in morning mist. Someone brushes by me

pulls to one side, warms the bowl of his pipe in his hand. I turn toward
the tobacco stream, he keeps on, pulls his sleeve. The hood of his jacket
falls over one shoulder as it did then. I call out, my shoes clap the cobbles.

He leaves Celetna Street as Kafka did every morning, goes through the
Town Square. Fruit rots, urine pools in a small alleyway. He’s slight
a slim back, dark eyes. I smell beer and river mud as he rushes ahead of me.

I call out again. A woman in torn shawls holds a child to her breast. Another
huddles over a paper cup, hands pointed in prayer. The man presses on.
At the first arch he turns left, turns again. I taste bitterness. He begins to run.

Turn to me - I beg. I raise my hand, a paw now, gnarled. My feet thump
after his green coat. I hiss at his back. Emet - it was him. Shem I implore.
In the name of God. Memories burn me. At the next turn he is gone.

Clay and water and mud and blood mixed in wax - I howl for the man he was
and for who I would never be. Emet I wheeze, Shem I wail and
crouch along the cobbles like a gypsy child.