The bleary-eyed boys, a quarter century old,
caged in by time:
the impending prime of their life,
nearly skip over the pile of
misc. leather shoes whose
matches may be buried
in Auschwitz or Dachau or
in another pile in another museum or
in the fertile soil of the collective memory,
but instead they pause, put blinders on
to block out the horrific images in their periphery,
to ponder the pile of shoes.
The bleary-eyed boys in trendy high tops,
memory foam to support their soles,
take a moment to muster the grace
of their post-adolescent perspective,
and feel melancholy for the tiny feet that fit
into the misc. tiny shoes;
the bleary-eyed little Jews of the 1940s have
nothing but collective memory to support their souls.
The bleary-eyed boys are jet lagged in the homeland,
bloated from dark lagers and pita pockets,
but for a moment, their shoes are in a pile;
they’re caged in not by the privilege of pending time,
but by their ancestral line punished for being alive.
Throats raw from a tearless cry,
the bleary-eyed boys agree to carry on
the collective memory, agree to
fill the big shoes left behind by the young children
because they know that those shoes
could’ve been their shoes, and
the question of why will never be satisfied, but
to be happy to be alive is enough.
For you child, I am happy to be alive.