Written about going to Yad Vashem in 1987.

He said he was my brother,
this son of Esau,
this redeemed soul
giving guided tours of Israel.

Fat old ladies hung on his words
as they looked up at him
(the handsome darling),
squirming with an uneasy delight
as he tickled their double chins
with his feathers of information.

He was my new hero, too,
until the day
we alighted onto Jerusalem
like hungry little Christian flies
lapping up the dung of history.

It was then that I looked at the schedule
and queried out loud in my naiveté,
“Aren’t we going to Yad Vashem?
It’s not far from here.”

He turned, then, “Yes, oh, well,
I guess.
You’ll have a choice
at lunch.
We’ll park near there
and if you don’t want to eat
you’ll have 30 minutes
to go through the museum.”

I waited.
I looked up at him.
He shifted his weight.
“It’s enough, you know.
I mean, it happened, yes.
But enough already
of talking about it...
     Did I mention, by the way,
     that I still have the keys
     to my mother’s house
     in east Jerusalem?”

So there I stood,
in front of this man,
making my selection
left or right
lunch or death.

Bruised by the gauntlet
of his pugnacious words
I turned,
wiping up the blood that had
spurted from my ears
boxed numb from initiation.

I choose death, I say.
No question about it.
After all,
it’s only for half an hour.

© 1/21/97, Lois E. Olena

About Lois Olena :: Contact :: Links :: Bibliography :: Articles :: Holocaust Poetry :: Judaica Poetry :: Home Page

Website © Copyright 2004- Lois E. Olena & Keystrokes