Mama

By David Wolpe

From the 1977 Keidan Yizkor Book. 


Nineteen forty-one. May
In Lithuania the sun is molten with red lead
 
Father says, with sadness in his face, that
Mother, unfortunately, is lying in hospital
 
I waited not a tiny moment,
but quickly strode away there on foot.
 
The sight of Mother's face pierced my heart
And her hair a white-hot burning fright
 
Disheveled like a sick bird, weak
She managed to punch a hole in me.
 
Brightly shone her childlike blue gaze
Shining for that sunlit hour
 
"Dovidl" ... her voice whispered
I did not know it would be the last time
 
"Mamaleh" I said the word
In my bones the sound echoed
 
I stood beside Mother's bed
I still feel her last stirring
 
A kiss. She asked me for nothing more
And that tragic image stayed with me on my journey
 
It has stayed in my eye, frozen
and will not let my heart rest.
 
 

Translated by A. Cassel