Epitaph

December 18, 2008

 

for Samuel Oliner

In Bobowa, the town
whose name sounds like a stutter,
he lay on the roof all day, under the sun
that shines on man and beast without distinction.
Over his body, boards, trash. Garbage
over sporadic sun-lit strands of yellow hair
where he hid. Only his head might save him.
What could a 12-year-old discern
of God’s dark purposes, or the whims of men,
the stutter of guns from nearby woods
where pink-cheeked German boys
were following orders?

When he thinks
of them… mother: gone;
father, grandfather, taken… the story
sticks in his throat, his palate
thick as fur of the rabbit
whose neck he wrung, his mouth
full of the feathers of small birds,
feasts of the famished. Now,
he alone, how can he tell?
He burns with the acid
poured on their bones.
He names their sacred names
with a stutter.

 

by Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

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