Poem: Sisters of my mother, your beauty only imagined

            June 2012    
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By Harriet Shenkman

Yocha, Chana, Gisye, Rochel

Fourth generation in the town
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav passed through.

Sisters of my mother,
your beauty only imagined,
voices mute,
ghosts at the seder table.

Yocha, Chana, Gisye, Rochel

One bullet to the back of the neck, you
fell like plant stalks into the open ground.

Yocha, Chana, Gisye, Rochel

You sewed,
each stitch a proclamation.
Your embroidered blouses and dresses
Savile Row tailoring.

Where are those garments?
I want to slip them on, gaze at
myself, resplendent in the mirror,
admire the seams,
the finely stitched hems.

Dresses forgotten in musty closets
of sweethearts of German soldiers returned,
worn from the killing units,
bearing gifts.

Former sweethearts now,
perhaps wives,
bones thinned, hair wispy.

As old and feeble as you would have been,

Yocha, Chana, Gisye, Rochel


from the June 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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