A poet read at the open mic: an old bright star. As a child her small eyes and mouth were shuttered in the Warsaw ghetto. Then she was passed off like a loaf of bread on a black train, first to be hidden from the danger of the camp to where her family was cargoed and killed, then shuttled from village to village on more black trains until she was fifteen to work in fields like a beast of burden.
It is easy for my mind to glaze over in numbness when I hear another story about the holocaust, until I meet a survivor. (Have you seen and touched a forearm with a tattooed identification number?) I drove home under the magic silver light of the old Jewish poetess, hearing her speak through that wide smile, line after line, her child-slow English spoken in staccato sibilants through beautiful teeth, until a key word in her second poem, one bead of mercury: the Polish word pamiętaj: remember.
Pamiętaj the wound, I thought, not the fear. I followed her silver star and drove home in the dark, wondering, where from, her bright and clear joy out of so much darkness? When suddenly a doe from out of the farmer's dark field appeared and shocked the windshield and me, the reflection of my car light in her eye a shooting star! In a second her umber-and-ivory-hided body jerked into a dancing constellation with my silver spinning car. The star you are following is suddenly everywhere, rays splayed to the horizon. She dives into the moment of you, the moment after fear, just before the wound blossoms.
Listen to me read this piece here.