A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

Back to Issue Eight


Two Poems by Robbi Nester

Nothing Disappears

Even then that place was just scraps and remnants,

all that was left of the Jewish fabric trade, not far

from the river. It was the late 60s, pushcarts long

gone, though the people who once peddled fabric

there still had a foothold. Dusty fabric stores lined

both sides of the narrow street, stocked with cloth

of every shade and texture—silk unspooling into

sky-blue puddles on the floor, embroidered black

satin, velvet, darkness caught in its folds, ribbons,

trim. An ancient émigré sat behind the register,

gray as the dust that covered cards of buttons,

bolts of cloth, patterns, yards of bright ribbon

hanging on the wall behind him. One dim light

fixture barely illuminated the small space, though

the winter sun shone through the plate glass

window. I’d come there with my mother to

pick out fabric for a dress. We chose a glossy

purple velvet, tiny buttons for the sleeves and

down the front, the colors of hard candy, the

pattern and the thread. I was sure each item

had a history the shopkeeper could tell us

if we asked. When we got home, my mother

sat down at her Singer, worked the pedals

with her feet. I wore that dress for years.

Much later, when I was packing up the

house for sale, it still hung in my closet.

I took little from that time, no books or

clothes, wanting to put that past, the person

I had been, behind me. But I took the

matching scarf, its silver fringes showing

little wear. Since then, I’ve learned it’s

impossible to purge the past completely.

I hold on to its traces—wheel of bright

needles, spool of silk thread.


The word once meant “laid down” or “fixed.”

Stars like nail heads holding up the sky’s dark

drop cloth. Now we fancy, if we think of it at all,

the universe was broken, fell like shards of glass

after an accident. No one can agree on anything.

Truth’s a distant place we heard of in a fable.

Law might be better If it meant “a hill,” as it does

to certain rural Scots, a rise where sheep graze,

something they can see, can own or sell. Not

a map drawn by a blind man, meant to guide

us through a violent world.

Robbi Nester

Robbi Nester, a retired college educator, is the author of four books of poetry and editor of three anthologies. Her most recent book of poetry is Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She hosts two monthly readings on Zoom. Her poetry and reviews have appeared widely, most recently and forthcoming in One Art, The Journal of Radical Wonder, Verse-Virtual, Sheila Na Gig, and more. You can learn more about her at https://www.robbinester.net.



Robbi Nester