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lyrics

Passover.
At Auntie Honey’s and Uncle Harvey’s in New Jersey.
My sister would hold her breath
over the George Washington Bridge
and we would laugh at her. She’d frown.
Ev’ryone including Nana Ida would be standing at the front door
when we pulled up, and we’d count down.
FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE!
And we’d fight to be the first out of the car
having come this far.
Having come so far for this feast,
this feast of no yeast.
And the matzo balls are so hard when you cut them they just fly!
Why?
Passover.

On this day
we read of plagues and misfortunes then start eating.
Uncle Harvey’s the cook.
Ma laughs so loud that she shook.
Cousin Gary… is reading porn.
We’ve run out of skullcaps,
some men are wearing Acapulco beach club bandanas
that really, really, really, should not be worn.
We are Jews like from the first five thousand years,
laughing through our tears.
Joyous, vulgar, anything goes,
but we wear nice clothes.
That’s the way I like remembering this scene, manic and high.
Why?
Passover.

In the Passover prayer book
we read about what Pharaoh did to the Jews.
About how Pharaoh wore those big gold platform shoes.
And how the Jews escaped stealthfully,
by splitting the Red Sea.
Wait! WAIT!
I think that was a movie.

Anyway, when I tell the story of Passover,
which I am instructed to do,
I will include how the Jews of Natick traveled over the Hudson river
and had an unforgettable Seder.
More details about that later.

It’s later.
Michael as the youngest sings out the four old questions.
What they mean is unknown.
My father is playing trombone.
Then we go to meet Elijah at the door.
I can see the faces ‘round the table
and the grins are getting larger
and the voices begin to soar.
ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!
And I think that we will never laugh so hard, never feel so free.
I think life that night was more perfect than it will ever be.
Uncle Bernie and my Mother, overwhelmed, begin to cry.
Why?
Passover.

Uncle Bernie passed over.
Uncle Harvey passed over
Nana Ida passed over.
And my mother, my mother passed over.
Passover.
Passover.

credits

from Elegies: A Song Cycle (Studio Cast Recording), released September 11, 2016

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