Joanne Seltzer

Inside Invisible Walls

The Season of Lights

Christmas lay beyond the pale
of my ghetto
but O those distant lights
attracted me
along with angels, tinsel,
Santa Clauses,
stockings by the chimney,
Scrooge turning jolly.
One Christmas eve
I hung a stocking up,
found it empty
in the morning
and was told
every day is Christmas Day
for Jewish kids.


I never had a chance
to light Hanukkah candles
at my grandparents’ house
because the men came first
then the boys
then the women
then my big cousin Betty.
Once my little cousin Dan
acting out of charity
offered me his candle
but Grandpa said no...
so I had to grow up
to earn my own light
and I had to grow old
to value candles
that authenticate the past
by burning out.

copyright 1976 by Joanne Seltzer
first published in The Mickle Street Review
reprinted in Inside Invisible Walls
all rights reserved

Selected Works

A selection of sixty poems on a variety of themes, published by Plain View Press.
Eighteen poems written at scenic alpine lakes, with black and white photographs by Alan Cederstrom.
Twenty-seven poems of the difficult transition from housewife to feminist poet, suburban angst transformed into art.
Twenty-four poems, from the Prohibition era to midcentury, set in old Detroit’s colorful Jewish ghetto.

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