Kaddish

When you left the earth
and climbed over tile rooftops
at night
storks on chimneys watched you
silently process
and taught their young
the prayers of Kaddish.

Pilgrims on a journey without guides
like aborigines you sense the way
comfortable with clues--a broken branch,
embers of a fire extinguished long ago.

Today I open the family album
in the attic of the house Mertonstrasse
and find ten-thousand ways to attempt
absolution.
Ten-thousand memories to bless, to possess,
to let fly from the cornices of the window.

Memories like streaks in marble or
flashes of phosphorescence in a purple sky
quietly invade our lives.
This album uncovers lost cities
the shtetls of East European Jews,
an Atlantis sunk beneath the covers
of our lost childhood.

At each turn, we cross ourselves and bless
the world with your memories.

Edith Hollander and Otto Frank
honeymooning in San Remo, 1925

Margot with the watering can, 1929

Edith with her daughters shopping
near Hauptwache, 1933

Margot and Anne at the Bretano swimming pool
iceskating in Vondelpark,
dressed in costume for a birthday party.

And later at the exhibition
blown-up fotos of the Annex
walls decorated with postcards of film stars,
an entrance concealed by a bookcase,
a picture of the Westertoren clock
in the church next-door striking the quarter hour.
Anne says, "especially in the night
it's like a faithful friend."

Now you continue to sail the seas of heaven
like Celtic monks without rudders.
Following the ruah, the divine breath of wind
you find Jesus asleep in his boat
and the fisher king who looks for him
has an empty net, his wound infecting
the kingdom.
Everyone waits for Parsival
to ask the question which will unlock
the buried truth within

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe