The Angel of Dead


A sort of solitude

 

Caused me to listen

To an unheard voice

 

The language of stones

Whispered illegible

Invisible, thrice

 

Stoned silence

Yells in the air

Each letter a siren

 

The fragments of life

Shattered in the mud

Faded dim-light stories

Of three flower buds

 

 

 

The Dead

They have chosen me

The Dead

They’ve singled me out

From the Living

To be

 

To be

their speaker

their messenger

their angel

 

Each of them

Is telling me

History

To be told

The Rabbis, the babies

The young and the old

 

Tell them

They say

Tell them:

I was someone

 

Tell them

They dun me

To tell you:

There has never been

Another time

 

The Dead do not praise

Neither the voiceless*

 

So I speak

Their plain speech of desire

So I speak words of wisdom

Although their voice

Never will be mine

 

Everything

I am speaking of

I am not

 

Since I am still alive

I am nothing

 

Even tough I speak

Because I speak

 

My hands are tied

My tongue is tired

 

 

————————————– 

(Yehuda Schenef,

 dedicated to the Deads of Kriegshaber, Pfersee and Steppach at the Jewish Cemetery of Kriegshaber,

7th of Av 5768 )

 

(* Psalm 115.17)

2 Responses to The Angel of Dead

  1. yehuda says:

    Dear Marla
    Many thanks for your encouraging comment. I was not aware that the poem also could speak for others, before Mr. Arthur Obermayer recently pointed out during his visit to Augsburg. But of course there are many other “angels” in similar situations.

    The circumstances here however maybe are quite different. Unlike many other places most of the destruction at the Kriegshaber Jewish cemetery occurred in the post Nazi era, above all by cynical neglect, vandalism and irresponsible as well as stupid acting – but all of this maybe isn’t so different as I suppose?

    Precisely for this reason it comforts me, to read your remark.

    Many thanks
    Yehuda

  2. Marla Deutsch says:

    Shalom Yehuda,

    Thank you for your touching poem. Your words spoke to me, as I am my family geneaologist and, in the summer of 2001, visited the cemetery in Oppenheim where my ancestors are buried.

    After the war, the town’s Nazis were forced by the townspeople to upright the stones they had vandalized. Fortunately, the man who lives in the house on the cemetery grounds has organized the town’s children to clean and maintain the graves. Two young girls were doing just that on the day I discovered the plots. When asked if they had family buried there, they said there were no more Jews in Oppenheim. When asked why they were caring for the graves, the older one (about 12) said, “this is something we all must do”.

    Regards,
    Marla Deutsch
    Campbell, CA USA

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