Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Demand That Which Had Been Cut Short

Written by Zeev Kachel

Translated by Uvi Poznansky


You're asking me to put here in writing, once more,
All that I lost, my esteemed counselor?
To list in detail, then describe and refine
And bring two witnesses tomorrow to sign?

My father's gold watch--I could just hear the sound    

Had three lids that were shining
Reflected in it I could see us, standing around
All faces aglow and rejoicing.

The watch also had a heavy gold chain

Coiled twice over, over his vein
The tips of its hands gave a hint of a spark
Shooting green glow, right into the dark   

It ticked, counting years for each girl and boy

Marking seasons, holidays, morning and night
I remember Sabbath candles flickering with joy
Sparkling brightly, like starlight.

You're asking me to record, on paper to pour 

All that I lost, my esteemed counselor?

There was an old synagogue my grandpa had built

Burning scrolls, flying ash, dying spirit
Ancient Torah aflame, letters lifting, all gilt
Thou shall not kill, shall not steal, shall not covet

There was my sister. She was delicate, tender

In her eyes I remember a twinkle 
Her name was Batia, my beloved little sister
She grew up--and then--it was simple:

She grew up and married, gave birth to a son

with a blue glint in his eyes, and a dimple 
And blond hair, like a pure 'Aryan'--
The murderers, they threw him right into the Nile 

There were aunts, there were uncles, boys and girls in our midst

The murderers decreed: they should not exist

You're asking me to record, on paper to pour 

All that I lost, my esteemed counselor?

I demand to return, reopen that door

Find parents and sister, each girl and boy
Back there in that synagogue, with that spirit of yore
Sabbath candles aflame, father's voice filled with joy.
It's not property I ask for, not mere pieces of land--
Hebrew school, friends around, all of us in one band 
With hope that inspired to survive, to withstand.
Bring the murderers to trial, that is what I demand.
You will not understand; it's of no great import--
I demand that which had been cut short


For those of you young enough, or lucky enough not to know, Reparations refers to money paid by the German government to holocaust survivors, to compensate them for property confiscated by the Nazi regime.  

The watercolor painting here is called 'The Bard', which I painted after his passing, from memory.


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10 comments:

  1. Beautiful and overwhelming

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  2. Moved to tears, Uvi. Beautiful, haunting, wrenching...wish history could be re-written in accordance with The Great Counselor.

    How amazing to be able to translate from another language and have the piece feel as if it were written exactly as translated. What a gift.

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    1. Thank you so much dear Britton. It is incredible how we connect here.

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  3. So very sad. I have to constantly remind myself that events such as these actually happened. The amount of death, torture, and travesty are unfathomable to me. I pray that it never happens again but what is so unbelievable could very well happen again if no one believes it happened in the first place.


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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Kingdom of Tattered Hearts. Your name and your words spell compassion!

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