Sesame Street’s Count is My Grandfather
for Jennifer Glaser
What are the numbers, Count? Your Transylvanian cackle seems Yiddish to me, your unhinged delight, your bitter joy enumerates the world, an inventory of what’s there, what hasn’t be destroyed. The time I’m waiting, the time I’m waiting for those numbers in your kitschy voice which isn’t different than my parents, grandparents’ voices.
You’re counting, chanting the numbers, the Sh’ma at the Warsaw ghetto, the empty chairs at the Seder, numbers on my grandfather’s arm, my grandmother’s. To count the future with thunder, to remember the past with lightning. I see you, Count, a survivor. The chortling paradox that there are things and that they can be counted.
Gary Barwin’s novel, Yiddish for Pirates (Random House) has just been longlisted for the Giller Prize and will appear in paperback in November. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario where is writer-in-residence for at-risk youth and at Hillfield Strathallan College. His new poetry collection, No TV for Woodpeckers will appear with Wolsak and Wynn in 2017. (Check out more of work at www.garybarwin.com. Also see the review of his novel, Yiddish for Pirates and the review of his book Franzlations by Schlemiel Theory. Barwin has also written “Before the Soup (After Kafka)” – a Kafkaesque piece on the schlemiel recently featured by Schlemiel Theory.)