An Elegy for the Future

In dreams, my mother and I try our hands at writing poems in Yiddish,
a language I never learned and she has long forgotten.

It is a failed effort at some peculiar form of resurrection,
a coda for the clang of oven doors.

                vas hostu farloren
                what have you lost?  

In Sarajevo, the cellist played a concert in the bombed out square for 22 
one day for each of his neighbors,killed waiting in line for bread.
At the close of this century, how many days shall we play our instruments?

                a rettenish
                ich vil der epes fregen 
                a riddle
                I will ask you a riddle.

Every soul has its mission, said Rabbi Isaac, but often it happens
that the body is taken before the soul is able to finish its work.      
And then to achieve its purpose,
a soul may join itself with that of a living person

                shah, shtil             
                the rabbi will dance again
                der rebbe gayt shyn tantzen vider
                hush, silence
Shall I carry some soul with me into the new
millenium?  Some spirit deeply known, like
my father,  his labors interrupted?

Or one unknown-
an African storyteller lost in the middle passage,
a new mother extinguished at Hiroshima,
a  lover, torn from the beloved in Dachau
or Kosovo?

And how would you know if some soul
has come to lodge with you?
Would you dream of hills you have never seen,
hum tunes of unknown origin?

Or carry a great longing that can find no root,
but tangles itself in the minutes and the hours
a pain with no source?

                a rettenish
                ich vil der epes fregen
                a riddle
                I will ask you a riddle,

How shall we move lightly into new time
burdened by the weight of ashes?
Shall we dance with the longing of old bones
which are not ours, but must become ours. 

If the world is to be redeemed, Rabbi Isaac said, 
every soul must complete its journey.

                farloren, vas hostu farloren
                what have you lost?

If every step makes the path, where should we begin?
Shall we still sing songs in lost languages,
or do we need a sound as yet unheard,
some pure tone that will ease our way  
as we carry each other's souls towards completion, 
opening the way to new time
when we will not be afraid of each other

and we will not be afraid.

Gail Golden

Send comments to peacepoet at aol dot com