Created 1 month, 2 weeks ago.
An Elegy for the Six Million
by Rabbi David Polish
One day they will assemble us in the valley of bones—
Ashes sifted out of furnaces, vapors from Auschwitz,
Parchments from some fiend’s books, cakes of soap,
Half-formed embryos, screams still heard in nightmares.
God will breathe upon them. He will say: Be men.
But they will defy Him: We do not hear you. Did you hear us?
There is no resurrection for us. In life it was a wondrous thing
For each of us to be himself, to guide his limbs to do his will.
But the many are now one. Our blood has flowed together,
Our ashes are inseparable, our marrow commingled,
Our voices poured together like water of the sea.
We shall not surrender this greater self.
We the Abrahams, Isaacs, Jacobs, Sarahs, Leahs, Rachels
Are now forever Israel.
Almighty God, raise up a man who will go peddling through the world.
Let him gather us up and go through the world selling us as trinkets.
Let the peddler sell us cheaply. Let him hawk his wares and say:
“Who will buy my souvenirs? Little children done in soap,
A rare Germanic parchment of the greatest Jew from Lodz.”
Men will buy us and display us and point to us in pride:
“A thousand Jews went into this and here is a rare piece
That came all the way from Cracow in a box car.”
A great statesman will place a candle at his bedside.
It will burn but never be consumed.
The tallow will drip with the tears we shed
And it will glow with the souls of our children.
They will put it in the bathrooms of the United Nations
Where diplomats will wash and wash their hands
With Polish Jews and German Jews and Russian Jews.
Let the peddler sell the box of soap that once was buried
With Kaddish and Psalms by our brothers.
Some night the statesman will blow upon the candle
And it will not go out.
The souls of little children will flicker and flicker
But not expire.
Some day the diplomats will wash their hands and find them stained with blood.
Some day citizens of the German town
Will awake to find their houses reeking
With all the vapors from all the concentration camps,
From Hell itself, and the stench will come from the soap box.
Then they will rise up, statesmen, diplomats, citizens
And go hunting for the peddler: “You who disturb our rest
And our ablutions, you who haunt us with your souvenirs,
You who prick our conscience, death upon you!”
But the peddlers shall never cease from the earth
Until the candles die out and the soap melts away.