Already at birth they seek forgiveness
a field of thorns flourishes
beneath their hearts.
In a country of ghosts their first words
are silence they totter into darkness
as they walk
Their hometowns are absence and amnesia
which they wake from the way a black-out wakens
from the fuse box
And their childhoods—what breathes in them
but shame and anguish? The dark star of memory
rises in their blood
Who, then, has the power to save them?
Not the survivor of Belsen from Bensonhurst
who bakes for her young Aryan
Not the Ethiopian émigré in Ashkelon
who hums a tune more ancient than Rome
Who can release them but the Jews Grandfather
killed? Who can heal if not the Jews
only oblivion saved?
Copyright © 1995 by Charles
Fishman. Used with permission of Charles Fishman.
This poem first appeared in European