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Grandmother, On Her Lap

Bounced on her lap
happy face I couldn’t see
Her rhythm was lively
I was lucky
Not cooking or working with grandpa
she was having fun with me

After she died I learned
her special face that afternoon
was normal for grandmothers
not the sadness I often saw

Sadness and the dignity of loss
I was not told of--the letters that ceased
after 30 years, the world she’d left behind
with her kinsmen, her landsmen

When a few years later photos were published,
skeletal corpses, those left with bodies,
not the vanished ash, not the dismembered
pieces of life hacked off on Vilna’s streets

she said nothing didn’t speak of kin and friends
those whose silence she had only guessed.
that happy afternoon, I ten and on her lap
silent names she never said

or anything about her usual sadness
I a child, not knowing the why of it
but enjoying that special hour
after which we had chicken, with carrots and good soup.

April 19, 2018

  Roberta Gould