If you were born in 1921
and died yesterday
you would remember your parents
lowering their voices,
stopping talking when you came into the room
you were only twelve, you didn’t care
who was in power in far-off Germany
except that your parents were afraid.
And when you were twenty
your big brother was killed
when his plane went down
and when you were twenty-two
your little brother was killed
fighting to defeat Hitler.
And when you were twenty-four
working in the munitions factory
walking out with a young man,
you were together in the movie theater
when they showed the films of the camps
and you knew all at once that the nightmare rumours
were all true, worse than true.
when everyone promised
three doctors in your family
sixty years of married life,
lighting the candles
shopping in the kosher market
buying new curtains, putting gas in the car,
remembering everyone’s birthdays,
going to synogogue on Saturday mornings.
And when your grown-up children told you
it couldn’t happen again,
anyway, not here, not in Pittsburgh,
you almost believed them.
October 28th 2018.