Turn the other cheek? Not this time.
A bullet might hit that side too. Hate
follows us. Remember those trains
transporting relatives to terminal
fenced destinations. Death camps
where my own cousins grew thin, ashen.
Now their ink-marked arms appear,
dark numbers race cloud-like through
Northern air, slapping my sleeping face.
Silenced lips mouth No, not again!
Here we are in the land of the brave,
land of the bully and coward.
We did not survive to serve as witness
to red-glazed pews and Torah scrolls.
What should we do? Lock shul doors
to rooms, to those prayer sanctuaries.
Mistrust the intention of every good stranger,
assume danger in hourly interactions?
Keep hands of welcome inside
our pockets to greet just lint and dust?
I search the autumn-rusted sky for answers
to find only the crying eyes
of my long-dead cousins looking back.
Maureen Sherbondy lives in Durham, North Carolina with her writer-husband Barry Peters. She teaches English at Alamance Community College. Her work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Calyx, Southeast Review, Feminist Studies, European Judaism, and other journals. Collections include Beyond Fairy Tales, Eulogy for an Imperfect Man, and The Art of Departure. Dancing with Dali is forthcoming in 2020 from FutureCycle Press. www.maureensherbondy.com