Next Door

Oaks drag alongside the road,
weighted by yesterday’s snow.
There’s Frauka walking alone,
the hood of her parka
snow-lit against the trees.

I pull over.  How is he?  But before
I can answer, I see them last
summer: Frauka, and Father
leaning on Mother, wanting to believe
her will can make him well.

Sitting on the lawn,
pretending to read, I am unable
to tell them, My legs won’t walk.
Go on without me.

Eleven years I’ve protected them—
Holocaust survivors—by not naming
my disease.  Wishing them dead
before they’d see me in a wheelchair.

Frauka whispers, My younger brother
died one day before your father.
Tears rim her eyes, her slim
body shivers in the wind.
For a moment we are closer
in our sorrow than we’ve ever been.

Copyright © 2005 Joan Seliger Sidney. Used with permission of CavanKerry Press.