memorial for a brilliant woman

Sunday, April 07, 2013

NAPOMO poem-a-day April 7

Light a candle (for Yom HaShoah)

On days like this I leave the house dressed for sun
to warm my skin, enough if I get home before dark,
before the night chill rises around bare ankles.

The car is never close enough these times, the walk
too far, I fold my arms tight around me, hunched
against the cold and dark, uneasy but unafraid.

Then I remember her, the Catholic teen from Poland,
swept up in a raid of her father’s shop near the ghetto
where many Jewish girls worked, some she called friends.

Her father’s protests fell on deaf ears, they took her
and forced the frightened girls to walk to a train
on the edge of the city, wearing thin coats, gloveless.

She was the youngest, believing her family would come,
whispering assurance to those with her, as they huddled
in clumps, pushed along by the soldiers that night.

They sang and hugged on the ride, warmer in the car
with so many others pressed against them, then stood
in lines for separation, for assignment, they believed.

She was healthy, many were, the tiniest and frail girls
taken elsewhere, it was so cold! Everyone prayed,
cried until they were beyond tears, until silence came.

Her story enfolds me, I will light a candle for her tonight,
read an awkward Kaddish for them all, for the six million,
so I can say on the other side "I did not forget you".

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