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And from their fifth-floor plus stoop, under the good first sun, they panned and picked out Gelfman drawing for himself the first soda of the day; Dopey Duhvee leaning over his triycle to drool down big, rich spit bombs that burst over his mother’s shoes; Mrs. Chepper slipping the leash off her old Pekinese, blaring “Beauty, don’t be in a big hurry, don’t force!”; the cripple Fastenberg, who sang on subways, salting his cup with change; the cats of Schactman’s Market pawing, delicate as diviners, at the pails of chicken parts; Yenta Gersh, in a cut-down Homburg, blue-satin cocktail dress, and a black sneakers dragging her baby buggy up and down and back and forth across the Bay 4 sands, contendning with gulls over newssheets, bottle tops, wooden ice-cream spoons, bathing caps, umbrella handles, kite tails, atomizers, her short-handled one-toothed rake skimming, sifting, sorting, striking like a snake.

“Fill it up, Shimmy,” his mother instructed. “Shimmy Shimmy, take in sweeter and green then your mother has.”

Once more she drifted into song.

It’s the pot cheese with a ta’am
It comes right from the farm
Sweet Maid, Sweet Maid…
— from Wallace Markfield, Teitlebaum’s Window (1970)

“I Read The News Today, Oh Boychik”; Brighton Beach Avenue

Photograph by Amber Tides, courtesy the Yenta Gersh Museum of Art at Brooklyn College.

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