Sunday, July 03, 2016

In Memoriam: Elie Wiesel

This was a persona poem I initially drafted a decade ago, imagining a weary Wiesel talking with God, wondering why he was spared and if his work would ever be at an end.

The burden of witnessing is now lifted from him and passes to all of us who are moved by his words, his life, his experience, his suffering.

Elie Wiesel talks to God

"every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering;"
-Elie Wiesel, in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1986

It's not what I expected. My family
doesn't recognize me and whose fault
is that? The last time I saw my mother
I was fifteen. She is so much younger

than I am now. Why have you cursed them
with ease? She remembers the moment
we were torn apart, but even that has faded—
a vague second childbirth. What will you grant me,

oh, Lord, for all my suffering? You left me to live.
It was no kindness and this brief dream
is no homecoming. Shall I recite Shehekhyanu?
Be grateful to you, oh God, for sustaining me

to reach this day when my baby sisters peek shyly
from behind our mother's back? Perhaps
I am a long forgotten uncle or village elder. I know
it is simpler that way, for them, maybe even for me.

Still, must I carry this night forever? Please understand,
this is not bitterness, only fatigue. Maybe
disappointment. You have schooled me well
in the lessons of endurance. How many times

have I told the world our lives no longer
belong to us alone. They belong to all those
who need us desperately.
I pray I will not be needed
much longer. I fear my voice always will.

--LJ Cohen July 2016


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