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Monday, January 26, 2015

A Christian friend's poem to a Jewish Holocaust survivor

January 27th, is Holocaust memorial day in Germany. This poem is written in honor of a dear friend and Holocaust survivor.
A pathway in the Jewish cemetery in Berlin Weissensee
I wish

I wish
I could go back with you
 through corridors of time,
be near to you,
on that bless’d accursed day…

You boarded a train that led you down
a path marked out with life,
while for your loves,
bearing a star,
it was a cattle car.

Life would never be the same for you.
The veil of death its shadow cast
even on brightest days.
Your world collapsed
as did your trust in God and in men past.

Had I been your interpreter,
the language of the Queen,
would have bound our hearts
beyond our ages.
Even then, I think
we'd have been friends.

Life's twisted paths,
a mystery to you,
led you back to the land you fled.
Could you ever smile upon it again?
The land that wished you dead…

And then you saw him.
Tall and slim, hair waving in the wind.
Full of life, and passion,
to change the world
with what was given him.

You loved him, dear Hannah,
step after step,
arm in arm,
year after year,
a coat, and a pipe
and a brimmed cap.
Side by side,
in sickness and health
‘til death did you part.

You smiled over the gate,
loved young laughter and squeals.
You brought chocolate
but gave of yourself,
a libation of love 
though your joy this place did steal.

Now the ultimate offering required of you
is to face the darkness, the void,
the vacuum he left
as empty as a universe
of God himself devoid.
Wrenched out of your grasp,
He's gone. You’re bereft.

I wish
I could alter the course of time
halt the passing of years,
bring him back to you, Hannah,
make him reappear,
wipe away your tears.

Your people of old awaited a day
where life from dry bones,
not stacked in graves or flung in pits,
would rise up in the morn.

In time a star over cattle stall
pointed to life anew.
Born to be snuffed out
just as your loved ones knew.

I too wish
for a world where death no longer stings,
where love is never rent,
where darkness never wins.
Where evil is forced
to slump out of its lair
and is swallowed up by the light and the air.

But until then,
dear Hannah,
I wish for one more thing,
the honor of being called your friend
and joy beckoning you in.

My friend, Hannah (her name has been changed), now 87, along with her two sisters, is one of the 100 remaining train transport children who were saved from the Holocaust and taken to the UK. All the rest of her family died in concentration camps. She moved back to East Germany after the war and married a Jewish German diplomat who also survived the war.  Her husband died last year.