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In Times of Abomination and Loss
by J. J. Steinfeld

You watch old films of Nuremberg rallies
look for faces
want to identify someone, anyone.
You remind yourself you were born after the War
but it doesn't help
chronology makes little sense
in times of abomination and loss.

What is this film-viewing
hiding in darkness
darkness undone by memory
darkness outdoing words of comfort
and the forfeited smiles of the holy?

Your mother would not watch films
about the Holocaust
in fact, anything about confinement and warfare.
She was there
the cameras the eyes of a blind god
the screams an endless soundtrack
your metaphors a joke
in the enormous hands of Death.

But a boy drowning in metaphors
accumulating dreams and escape routes
knew nothing of the darkness
and so you begged her
to take you to the picture show
until you were old enough to go on your own
like a courageous soldier on patrol.
What did she need the smell of popcorn with her history?

From An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press, 2006) by J. J. Steinfeld, © 2006 by J. J. Steinfeld. Used by permission of the author.

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