|"The Face of Death" -|
one of Bernhard Aaronsohn's paintings
from "The Flaming Sword"
A Poem Of Protest
To The Colloquium on Jewish Literature
Holocaust was History,
the stage at Auschwitz swept and emptied,
the poems of Isaiah returned to literature
by half a generation wanting,
half a generation fearing,
or simply to misremember.
half rebuilt, and Ibn Ezra’s dream already
turning sour among the dunes and wadis
and the bee-infested combs and coombes.
I grew up learning about
citrus groves and Bergen-Belsen, about
Delilah’s hairdressing salon, about
Mengele’s dental surgery, about
Dreyfus and the Shabtai Zvi, about
the wisdom with which Solomon decreed partition.
And it was all just history.
I hadn’t been there.
I hadn’t lived through it.
I had neither died nor - worse - survived.
My hands were clean,
my heart untorn,
my conscience untroubled -
what business of mine was any of this?
exiled in the English language
that I only half believed in,
speaking Hebrew in Mizrachic drawl,
uncertain of exact meanings in my translations
of Nachmann and Givrol and Bashevis Singer?
to be reviewed, critically or uncritically,
whether in newspaper or in Midrash.
because I acted upon the wrong stage,
because I studied the wrong documents,
because I did not experience the events,
because I did not hold the bequest,
but only the inheritance,
and out of Babylon,
and out of Bergen-Belsen.
"A Poem Of protest" is published in "Welcome To My World, Selected Poems 1973-2013", The Argaman Press. Click here to purchase the book.
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