WILLA v6 - Life

Volume 6
Fall 1997


Ariana Reines


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

or boot-heel


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

she pauses

touches the beads, the brittle cross

with wrinkled fingertips

-- gently -- gently --

she says

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

a locket--

with love Babcia etched into the back

and inside

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