The word was spread in whispers
the way flakes of snow fall
into silence. Some had already
read the exit signs
making their way to the pines.
I only saw a forest, swaying, waving
a dark green tunnel
leading from our door.
So many of us had gone already
our dear departed ones
massed in graves, in ghetto gatherings.
My fate was theirs, waiting on the threshold
waiting for collection.
My son took me. Hand in hand
by night we left, vanished into timberland.
Such a mismatched pair of fugitives.
He hurrying on as though summoned
by G-d and though the hounds of hell
might snap my heels, the need to rest
was strong. And there I forced our parting
cutting again the umbilical chord.
He drifted away like a balloon.
All the trees were witnessing.
They moved in closer still. Mists snagged
in swags on outstretched limbs, framing sanctuary.
Hunger that had gnawed like ravaged rats
guts that churned concerns
even the shivering bones
Snow soft hair in a frosted bed. Falling fast
the flurries dripped from face and hands
all the age-etched years erased.
I heard seabirds flying here from Riga
where the Great Choral synagogue
sang at the mouth of the river.
Notes: Solidarity in the Forest - The Bielski Partisans The Great Choral Synagogue memorial
A picture prompt that invoked a true but not isolated story of an aged mother who urged her son to leave her in a Belarusian forest as he went on to join the Jewish partisans there: The Sunday Muse #138
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