Wednesday 1 February 2012

Poem by David Koker, a Dutch Jew who died on the way to Dachau in 1945


We looked up at each other from our reading
quite simultaneously. And through our eyes
there passed the very same serene surprise
that everything could be so good and pleasing.

Within these walls, where joy all haste is spurning,
where in their sunlike, unassuming shine
white, slender Sabbath candles now are burning,
life’s smallest things can seem both whole and fine.

Glimmering light-spots dancing on the ceiling
the table of a never-ending white,
with dishes motionless and softly gleaming,
the wine, the pure white bread. Oh how this sight

expressed such solemn presence, nonetheless
seemed so aloof. We find ourselves constrained
for just one instant by bright giddiness
yet to what’s innermost have been ordained,
and like the things around us self-contained

have we become as we observe each other,
re-find ourselves in space so bountiful.
Each in his solitude and yet together –
such was our Sabbath, and so wonderful.

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