In a Europe where Jews were swept away like
beaten and burned
like dead autumn leaves
my family was marched to the ovens.
Nearly all except for Babcia
blonde with arching eyebrows and a slavic jaw
she passed for Catholic
rosary and crucifix hanging round the Jew neck
that might have borne the holes of an S. S. bullet
Now in the silence of her clean-smelling apartment
with polished tabletops
and memory-pregnant air
the necklaces hang
quiet, delicate and beaded
the crucifix tiny
not gaudy and bloody
Once in a while
in a shiver
touches the beads, the brittle cross
with wrinkled fingertips
-- gently -- gently --
in the voice that dies everyday
with her lost brothers, mother, father, husband
"this thing saved my life."
"Why I'll never know."
my talisman is gold, new,
has saved me from no ovens
it hangs round my neck
like a medal
with love Babcia etched into the back
my grandmother and my mother smile
a little well of love
and I remember
that life gives life
Ariana Reines is a senior at Marblehead High School.
© 1997, The Women in Literature and Life Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #1065-9080). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale.
Reference Citation: Reines, Ariana