Nearly every town in Europe has one
- a Jewish quarter;* strange peoples
gathered and grew into enclaves
staging voluntary exile from environs
then a leprous walling in, then a winkling out
by fear, fire or persecutory decree
short notice, up-sticks banishment
always a dispersal, the call to another continent
dismissed as tribes, twelve of them
some lost, some found but nominal nomads
here one century, gone the next
moving on or melding into the brickwork
like the cement of a Sabbath ritual
Now in these petrified parts of the city**
we piece populations from a few upturned relics
inquisitive visitors peer where inquisitors trod
in pursuit of phantoms up and down careworn stones
along labyrinthine passages from a biblical age
I cannot go again and see such resurrections
cleaned and displayed
as though nothing happened here but a vanishing
© Laura Granby
*The Call (pronounced like pal) or Jewish Quarter in cities & settlements of Catalonia- from kahal or kehilla, Hebrew for community. See Network of Jewish Quarter in Spain
**This was Girona, Catalonia – In 1492, 200,000 Jews left Spain under The Spanish Expulsion
A plain verse rendition to unite with other poets at Poetry Pantry
22 thoughts on “The Call”
Beautifully poignant write..!
thank you Sanaa – and heartfelt though loved my stay in Girona
Those remains, when polished is almost worse than forgetting. Here in Sweden it was almost worse, making it totally forbidden to be Jew or Catholic…
just my personal feelings in plain verse – the Call literally unearthed and unbricked and much appreciated by many for the efforts of Girona’s history professor – see Back in Girona after 500 years
walling in, then a winkling out – how little things change – an intelligent and carefully crafted poem.. a call which shines
ah thank you Jae Rose for your observations – your feedback always constructive
In a way this is chilling…always a dispersal to another country, another continent. The petrified past does live on as a reminder….a history, a museum piece. If only we learn!
truths written in stone perhaps but maybe mine is too harsh a view of this well-preserved area – it is well-liked and visited by descendants as well
“Now in these petrified parts of the city”…much pain is hidden here, and also in the word ‘Call’…history nicely portrayed….
and all the joys and vibrancy lost amongst the stones too Sumana
And so it continues with so many peoples…excluded and expelled. That must have been an amazing and humbling place with so much sadness permeating each brick.
yes indeed Donna – fascinating and yet a un uneasy gratuitous feeling hence “inquisitive visitors peer where inquisitors trod”
Beautifully crafted and a reminder that these exclusions and persecutions repeat and repeat……and are echoed in some of the us and them rhetoric we are hearing these days from people who are utterly misguided in their campaigns to lead nations. Sigh. I never thought I would fear a holocaust in north america, but it could happen. Human nature does not wish to evolve. Thank you for this thought-provoking poem, Laura.
thank you Sherry – took some crafting as not an easy topic.
p.s. hearing them loud and clear over here in the UK in one of our mainstream parties
Thank you for this humbling poem, it challenges us to wonder at human nature, Cannot we be better selves
thanks for adding the process notes, helped me to understand how you came to title your poem
A good Sunday to you Laura
glad you followed through on the understanding Gillena and thank you as always for your kind comments
just finished a novel about France in WW2 with the Jewish story tightly woven thru it.
Vivid in my mind and again in your poem.
the poem has a personal touch – half my husband’s family are from the Spanish expulsions – the other half Ashkenazis from Poland. Those in France lived to tell the tale as they were hidden in a convent as well as by a farmer – those left in Poland did not.
Perhaps you would find it interesting to read?
Or have already read it?
did wonder what book was so thank you for that
The last lines were so powerful… its amazing how everywhere people are just brushing over the past..pretending it never happened.
those last lines just how it felt to me!
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