Saturday, April 14, 2007

Garden of the Dead

In honor of Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed in Israel tomorrow (Sunday April 15th):

A small excerpt from the poem "Garden of the Dead" by a woman I am honored to call my friend - Dr. Thea Iberall

Garden of The Dead

Dedicated to the 15,000 children of Terezín, most of whom were born in Prague and died at Auschwitz-Birkenau

I. The Jewish Ghetto, Prague

I sit on Maiselova Street, time ticking backwards.
A woman clicks by on high brisk heels. A dog barks.
A weight hushes the Synagogue, dark bricks lick into place.
There is a legend that these building stones were exiled
from the Temple in Jerusalem and that someday, they will rise
borne aloft by the letters of the divine.
A song about children learning the alphabet seeps through the old cemetery,
bodies buried twelve deep.
Un der rebe lernt kleyne kinderlekh dem alef-beyz.
A headstone stutters, the letters etch unto bones:
י Yod wisdom,
ה He comprehension of all life and the unity of God,
ו Vau answers to all questions posed.
Here’s one: When Nazi jackboots echoed through the synagogue
and words replicated in the congregation’s blood,
were the letters scrambled by the tongue of pride, the stones strifed by dread,
the teachings profaned and sealed forever?
We are torches of days, trains from our countries
lost in our remembering,
we have no simple way to bridge between earth and dream.

1 comment:

thea said...

In this poem, I am referring to the Old New Synagogue in Prague. The legend says that the stones that were used to build it came from the 2nd Temple, burned to the ground in 70 A.D. by the Roman General Titus. Lorelai is praying by the one wall remaining from that temple, now called the 'wailing wall.' The legend goes on to say that someday the stones will be born aloft and the Temple in Jerusalem will rise again in G-d's presence with peace on Earth. In the poem, I go on to describe my visit to Auschwitz, not an easy place to go to. As I stood there in that horrible place contemplating history, the ending for the poem came to me:

In the garden of the dead
exiles weep for eternity
they’ve witnessed all the lies.
In the garden of the dead
they've seen the depth of lunacy
and know the stones won’t rise.