Remembering the End of the World

by Minadora Macheret



Grasping my sister’s God-struck hand 
          I begged her not to enter the black car called crow
as every morning smoke churned & churned
          until the town was no town
                    just honeycomb stuck at melting point 
The ash tasted of bees & roses at the start of decay
          while food was promised in wheat stalks bent to barren soil
                              Mothers sang Shema Yisrael
                                                                     eyes uncovering    
                                                                                   God’s silhouette
While a hive becomes a swarm 
          a pheromonal alarm 
                    a thrum of departure 

during the roundup of prayer books
          the roundup of bodies
          the roundup of gold-teeth
after the first glass-shatter
          the first tattoo-thrash
          the rabbis hide 
                    & the neighbors refuse
                    & my sister did not believe me
                    & my parents escaped
                              their bomb-splintered train

I promise to leave mama & papa
          on the barn floor     

in a cattle car, never again a cattle car 
                              the wings against groaning wood panels, flickering
                                                           as morning dew magnifies rusting tracks
I would say 
          the Ukrainians were bandits 
          the Russians bandits 
          the West a bandit
          our neighbors bandits

but you already knew this dear Bandit-God
                    as you pressed your lips to my temple
                                        you shot my sister
                                                           through the heart


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