Here the demand for remembrance,
here the notes of betrayal and joy.

Here the family entanglement,
stronger than emigration,
revolution, or war. Here the voices

Here Neesel returns from the army,
and Mikhail announces his marriage.
Here Sonya goes cold in winter,
and Hanna dreams of a world
beyond Kholmich.

Here hard times recounted,
and days in the shop  
"that are each like the other."

Here Yankel goes off to Moscow,
here they weep at Passover with
your pictures spread on the table,
with the cries, "Do not forget us!"
and "You must live!"

Here little Baylya "grows round" like a woman,
and Chaim makes plans for Palestine.

Through it all, gratitude
and reprimand. Through it all,
a call for letters and the prayer:
"to be healthy, to write frequently,
to tell everything."

Through it all, an insistence
on love, until a world disappears
and falls silent forever.


In commemoration of 102 letters recently translated
that my Grandma Bessie received
from Russia, 1914-1935

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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