Among these dark ambitions,
I wander, not ready for the light
plain to see everywhere,
eager to be shared here
and with everyone. But my soul
is a cellar dweller, a strange root
vegetable—pale and dirty—
so I'll rest under this thick soot
until the intricate shade
of the future descends
and envelopes everything.
Are We Done Yet
When our daughter was four,
we lit Chanukah candles atop
the Lane record cabinet, our first
purchase as a married couple.
In our new home we could look
out the window at the house below.
The Todds’ Christmas tree stood
in their den, where lights of every color
led to a star on top that seemed
to descend directly from Heaven.
We chanted our prayers,
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu,
melekh ha’olam, allowed Karen
to hold the shamash—the kindling
candle—for her first time, hustled Katey
to the other side of the room lest she
light up her pajamas. Our ritual complete,
we gifted them: a doll, a book, matching
jumpers, then sang songs from preschool.
Dinner, I told everyone, the greasy
latkes already blackened at the edges
as they sat in oil on the new gold
General Electric range.
Wait, Mommy, I have a question,
Karen said, what’s that in the window
over there? I tell her it’s a Christmas tree.
Why don’t we have a Christmas tree?
Because we’re Jewish, I said. She wanted
to know then, before eating the
brisket cut into small pieces so she
wouldn’t choke, before crunching
the latkes, now on the edge of soggy,
When will we be finished being Jewish?
“A prolific poet, printer, publisher and painter of sacred and secular icons, Mr. Oresick celebrated and epitomized the unflagging work ethic that characterized so many Western Pennsylvania immigrants." --Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“His life overflowed with faith and art, and, in fact, was a nexus of the two.” --Jake Oresick, son and writer
Most recent collection of poems:
Oresick, Peter. Iconoscope: New and Selected Poems (U of Pittsburgh P, 2015)
Forthcoming in Oct 2016 with Carnegie Mellon UP:
a collection of Willa Cather’s 10 Pittsburgh Stories, edited by Peter Oresick