On Yom HaShoah, Gloria Tessler dedicates this poem to her grandmother Irma Kien, who was murdered in Riga.
I am woman of bone.
lone-woman, my eyes are stone.
I break easily, small fissures
have marbled me like cracked china.
Do not expect me
to sing for Old Zion
under the sad willow
The fossil-flesh recalls
that moved men
and grew children,
Women of Israel,
I take the measure
of your acanthine flesh,
on its spikes I have grown my soul.
I am your Auschwitz skeleton.
Lipless, I grin beside rows of spectacles,
that catch the light like dull students,
And I wonder if they see me,
those people with their Rolex watches
and mobile cameras.
Can they see my doll eyes,
dark as agate, my toe joints a-dangle?
They blink for the photos, they cannot help it,
for here are cyanide cannisters,
and there, the serpent coils of human hair.
The visitors blink and smile at the future.
At Auschwitz the clocks have stopped
in the clutch of the dark season.
they have airlocked time so that I may move free
within my winter. My eagle flight
has landed; I touch base in ice wadis
that will not thaw.
Yet to amuse you I would wear
a lampshade on my head
and dance for the festivals,
as we did, when we threw sweets to children
just for the joy of watching them run,
for the joy of knowing the flesh of their laughter.
If I could feel, I would dance now,
a rich dance in a place of privilege;
undulating; veiled I would go, like a harem girl,
dipping into her erotic memory.
And with stamping feet
I would slide the earth back under the sky.