By Lillian Rosengarten
Dedicated to the memory of Paul Celan.
‘You were my death: you I could hold when all fell away from me.’
Dare we whisper of racial hate, cruelty that feeds voraciously
Righteous moral certainty ready to taint the earth with blood
Yours and mine in the name of nationalism.
Ugly word reminds me of “uber mensch.”
Do you remember once our well made clothes were warm and stylish,
party dresses decked with bows, ribbons in the hair,
families who loved, houses filled with flowers and the stuff of life.
Things everybody knows, or wants to know .
Before the yellow star took it all away, shopkeepers and bakers,
professors. poets, doctors and artists, students and teachers,
homosexuals, gypsies, lovers
Dare we whisper how hate tainted the earth with their blood
As the world looked on.
Racist oppression, cruelty, righteous moral certainty ready to strike.
In the name of nationalism, in the name of Jews.
But I am not this Jew and cannot be a Jew
who looks on in silence and indifference, who legitimizes collective
cruelty, no power
no land, no thing, the blood of war carelessly justified.
It’s all too familiar and I am tired.
Remember the hunted generations before and only yesterday.
A great burden has wrapped itself around me .
I scream collective pain heavy with sadness.
You! For the sake of humanity stand with me.
Hold me in your arms for I burn with a fever of grief
I eat my power to give me courage
Grotesque amoral army, dare we whisper or shout
Victimizers! What cruel twist of fate has blinded you?
A haunted people now fiercely perverse. Once you too were brutalized.
Moral army, have you forgotten?
Has the past inferno faded to fiction
or lost in your unconscious as you dream of nirvana in the Jewish
I feel the presence of an enemy, the boat can sail no more.
Ghouls in military attire walk across a vast terrain scorched and
New killing fields leave not a trace, not one skull for memory’s sake
only tears of glass. I beg the demons of the night.
Lift the darkness one more time.
Hold me in your arms before I die.
– Lillian Rosengarten was the only American on board the Irene (Jewish boat) to Gaza. She contributed this poem to the PalestineChronicle.com.