When Passover is done and chametz back in the fridge –
A pizza – soft rolls in the bread bin,
A lemon and poppy seed muffin,
Jaffa biscuits in the tin,
Then we have Yom Ha Shoah, 27th Nisan
Which falls in April or, more rarely, May,
Decreed by David Ben-Gurion in 53:
It means Holocaust Day
There is a synagogue service with El Malei Rahamim
Candles, kaddish and always a guest
A speaker, his or her flashbacks
Persist and attest.
Year by year, speakers are more elderly,
Then, after them, ex-kindertransport or, worse,
Ghetto kids, Their frightful narratives,
With composure, they rehearse;
They are eighty now, they have done this before,
Deaths of their loved ones they enumerate
And they have acquired fluency,
Dryly they communicate.
And, while they still live, we need to hear their stories
Which make the very air acrid, a sour taste
Is in my mouth and maybe yours
When we imagine the waste.
The Shoah is now far behind in years but ever present
How much more so for those who lived it in their youth?
But their speeches don’t engage as in the past,
Piercing with truth.
Occasionally they seem too altruistic,
Resourceful and, by any standards, stoic,
Then I wonder if they self-censor,
Revealing only the heroic,
The descent into an unimaginable abyss
For the person who’s been dehumanized
Might inhibit the memory
Of one so traumatized.
I want the survivors to remember truly,
Otherwise living testimony would cease
And how then would they have perfect rest
Or come to their place in peace?