POEM: Soldiers' Memorial Day by the Forward

POEM: Soldiers' Memorial Day

Image by Getty Images

They stand among the stones
as though not knowing where to turn.
The fathers, their faces melting, memory-weary
like broken branches hanging from the tree. The wives
pity-less, their eyes as wide open as the owl’s.
The mothers are emptied as if they’ve swallowed an abyss.
Others shudder as though wanting to shed their bodies
and flee to somewhere else.

Oh, beautiful country, pursuing
us from one end of the world to the other
in yellow and green fields in cloud shadows.
Even with thorn and thistle, with nettle and briar, you seduce
to enter you, to penetrate deep deep within you
body into body to no end.

What a terrible love, year after year, this ceaseless memory
always tearing open the wound until it blooms again and again
in this maddening spring becoming already
shorn summer, to the burnt expanses in the unbearable light
and now this aroma in the air mixes with the smell
rising from the ground and from the pallid stones.
Oh, my son.

From “In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner.” Translated by Rachel Tzvia Back. (Hebrew Union College Press, in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh Press, May 2014.)


POEM: Soldiers' Memorial Day

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

POEM: Soldiers' Memorial Day

Thank you!

This article has been sent!