Where the Jews Are: A Poem for International Holocaust Remembrance Day
I found them
in the middle of the day in France and Algiers,
in my friend’s eyes, in Portugal,
at a street corner in el Once, Buenos Aires,
in a Tango parlor in Berlin,
at Ben Gurion Airport Immigration,
in talk shows on German television,
in cracks of dawn over the Rhineland,
in a night train to Chicago,
in the parks and squares of Brooklyn.
Names I only knew from silent lists,
carved in stone, displayed in museums,
took shape, began to breathe, to teach,
to walk, to talk, to laugh, to sing,
became neighbors, lovers, friends,
opened their arms and danced with me.
Nu, what took you so long?
Nu, like my grandparents used to say,
Juli, mein Mädele, ich hab Dich lieb.
I found them, viscerally familiar aliens,
in my grandmother’s poppy seed cake,
in the first pomegranate I ate,
in all the rivers that have seen me weep,
in the prayers that I shyly mumbled,
in the moon over the desert,
in awe and in rebellion,
in the roots I always wished I had.
I found them inside me.