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Survivor – a poem
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My grandmother never told this story.

By the time I asked about that morning in 1939,
she looked at me,
century old cataract eyes
my face a blurry outline
and whispered, “that was so long ago”.

So I fill in the hours.
Had her father managed coffee
before the early morning raid,
or did he simulate strength for his daughters,
sleep still on his breath?

Or what if he made it to work at the lumberyard,
a day resembling the one before:
sawdust brushed from the ledger
a new joke for his son
about the true hazards of a paper cut.

Maybe they made it to lunchtime,
stomachs rumbling down the road
father and son jabbing
for who mother would cook for today,
Israel’s favorite stew or fish for father?

Within sight of the house, smells of stew,
and a tank.
I saw a picture once
of Jews from Moldova digging their own graves,
maybe it was him
but I don’t know
the outline of his face.


Thank you. Needs no comment other than it lands with touching impact. Thank you.

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