In the winter Christmas was a celebration

Celebrated somewhere else.

Ellery ran wild with the dogs and Miriam

Was counting candles lit on the menorah.

 

Portraits lined the stairwell; in the kitchen

Mother spun the dreidel; in the parlour

Grandpa played the fiddle.

Money was extant in pencilled

 

Envelopes and holidays were over

Even when we were not done with school.

The children would rush home to Santa,

Counting presents and the ornaments on trees.

 

The snowflakes would still fall and Ellery

Went out to build a snowman.

 

I would not hear the stories,

How they gassed and burned and died.

I would not play with uniforms,

But I would not learn the scripture.

 

Sometimes Miriam would mutter adonai.

Ten years ago, when we first buried grandpa,

She began to practice all the letters.

Ellery tossed down her pen,

 

Gathered her belongings,

Deemed it all too hard.

One night, the eve of her bat mitzvah,

We saw her praying to the Christmas tree.

 

Mother says she wants to be like others,

To collate a sum of presents, to sing carols

Born in Bethlehem, to find nativity in mangers.

Mother says that grandpa never taught her

 

To play fiddle, unlike Miriam,

Who runs to Sabbath on the arms of

Men in kippas. Mother says that Miriam

Will marry them someday.

 

I recall the fallen snowflakes and the snowman’s

Carrot nose. Ellery was baptised Monday morning.

 

I do not think she properly learned German,

But the news was that she flew off to Berlin.

Mother says there’s nothing left of that,

Miriam proceeds to smash the glass.

 

We found her burning pages like the lights on our menorah.

She said, “I am a Jew, but what is that to you?

We no longer burn the faces, only the

Traditions left behind.

 

We have erected

Monuments to poverty and youth.

One day I said I’d help her see the truth.

Inaugurated communists obliterating truth.

 

Today that is what Ellery communicates

To Jews. Tomorrow revolution seeks

To manacle the youth.

But what is that to you?

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Liza Libes
Liza Libes is a poet and a novelist studying English literature at Columbia University. A native of Chicago, she loves everything that New York City has to offer, especially its bookstores. In her spare time you will find her reading T.S. Eliot or John Keats for inspiration.

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