Into the Ascent

Into the Ascent now
three weeks I sat in sadness
seven weeks of recovery —
we’re into the Ascent
I’m marking it by honoring
my teachers inspirations and

Ellis Rivkin z”l


When he was a boy,
He snuck off on Shabbes Afternoons –
“Ball Hawk” his teammates called him
so began his independence
and break from


Intellectual Formation

He plotted the hidden ascent of the
British from his office
In the Klau Library
Wrestling his newsletters into light
Pouring over the secret

The English are everywhere.

Predicting the fall of the Iron Curtain
Long before it collapsed –
“a society that cannot
a decent electric razor
is no threat,”
he said in falsetto,
“it will collapse like dominoes.”

The Classroom

His voice ascending
His eyes following ideas Up
His voice
Into extra-sensory registers –
“tapping the mind of

Then there was the last session
Of the semester
When he kissed each of us as we left
As if we were second graders.

Then there were the nights he invited us
For hot chocolate

And the days he brought fine
European chocolates to the classroom
For tasting,

And then there were the classes
Rarely history
He was planted in the future
And parsing the secret present –

To which he drove to and from
In his galleon Cadillac.

And then there was the time
He pushed the


Ellis Rivkin,
sweetest teacher –

Good night
Dr. Ball Hawk.

jsg, usa