Monday Morning Musings:
“Remember only that I was innocent
and, just like you, mortal on that day,
I, too, had a face marked by rage, by pity and joy,
quite simply, a human face!”
From “Exodus,” by Benjamin Fondane, murdered at Auschwitz in 1944
“But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, June 6, 1944, written after Anne hears the news about D Day.
“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, July 15, 1944
This Passover—at least at the start,
my husband and I dine alone–
we’re on our own
for this Seder
(apart from the cats,
who join us later).
It’s been a strange week of that and this
things not quite right, a bit amiss–
the whole afternoon at the doctor for my mother’s hand
in a city office
(the building still grand)
I look at my hands
starting to look like my mom’s
when did this change begin of fingers and palms–
these strange hands turned from mine to others
how did they become so much like my mother’s?
The weather turns from cool to warm
but still I feel the coming thunder, the storm—
I read about a French woman who survived hate and the camps,
stabbed by her neighbor to whom she showed only kindness–
but he was caught up in blindness
(of the soul)
if that is how we can characterize it all—
this hatred or fear,
we should remember her
for whom the bell finally tolled.
This climate of fear
seems to grow daily
the president goes on another Twitter rant
and I just can’t–
listen to him (sniff sniff) speak or chant
fiction in his supporters’ brains
(enough of them still remain)–
where and when does it end,
will it ever stop,
the firing of the latest shot,
the hate, the finding of scapegoats to label
the fear of the intelligent and able?
There’s fear in the air,
but does fear rise above hope?
Which is denser, which one floats?
We see a performance, a play
people forced together, every day
having to live in close quarters
annoying each other, parents, strangers, daughters,
dependent upon friends for food—
never permitted to go out
or glance through a window—or shout–
forced to be silent all day—
even chatterbox Anne must sit still and stay,
but she finds a way,
observing and recording
in her diary she writes,
somehow hope rising above despair
as if she’s gathered it from the air
“Think of beauty,” she writes,
“I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Her writing, an art,
though she’s doing her own part
for the war effort, for after, for when life re-starts,
revising her words for the novel she hopes will one day be—
when the war is over—when they’re all free—
We know watching, that it is not to be,
and yet, still, I hope for a different ending,
one that ends without sending
them off in cattle cars to the East
to be treated worse than beasts
to die hungry, filthy, covered with lice,
wonder why she and others had to pay such a price—
would she then have written what she did–
as she slid
as if down a well
from hiding into Hell?
We celebrate miracles, the Exodus,
I’m not religious, but the history of us
of pogroms and hate at this time—
make me honor those who came before me
and who were not free
to celebrate or see—
a day of sun and clouds,
voices talking out loud,
the daffodils in bloom,
I hope they don’t disappear too soon.
Then a rainbow appears way up high
It seems magical, and though I’m cynical,
perhaps it is a Passover miracle,
whatever, it’s beautiful, I think,
and so, we eat matzah and drink
and before desert, the full moon appears to hum in the sky–
filling me with wonder and whys
The human face,
if we could only see it
instead of looking at a space
feel—seek out!– the pity and the joy
but instead, we destroy.
Fifty years ago, this week, a man was killed
perhaps from him, some hope was spilled
“I have a dream,” he said,
but before long, he was dead.
He urged others onward in the fight
for justice, for light.
Anne Frank, a young girl, also died
her family, too, only her father survived.
she wanted to be remembered, a famous writer
and so, she is, with life gone and so much missed.
I don’t know that our future looks any brighter,
(Do you hear it? The wind carries their cries.)
and yet. . .when I look up at the sky
I still see the stars and moon, and then I sigh,
hoping their dreams will never die.
We saw, The Diary of Anne Frank at People’s Light in Malvern, PA.
This is Na/GloPoWriMo, Day 2. The prompt was to play with voice, but well, these are my musings. 🙂
You have truly moved me with this poem on this particular morning, Merril. When did our hands change? Why do we tend to snipe out the best? So much I miss as I go about my daily life. I shall move more slowly today, because of you, and savor each step.
Janet–thank you for your lovely and generous comment. I am honored by your words.
A deep yet optimistic voice, as always. This is an especially beautiful meditation, and necessary in these times. (K)
Thank you very much, Kerfe.
So many rhyming couplets – brava!
And the strife and sadness your and your people recall during Passover and in the memories of Anne Frank, horrible! My forebears also suffered and died for their beliefs, so I’m learning as I explore history for my memoir: Swiss Mennonites tortured and killed just because their convictions did not line up with the prevailing creed.
Daffodils proclaim: Hope floats, love wins in the end. Otherwise I/we couldn’t go on.
Thank you very much, Marian!
Merril, this is stunningly lovely and poignant. I felt every line of this, the fear of the present political climate we live in, fear for each other and the inescapable haunting of the past. The amazing words of Anne Frank, who lives in my heart, that dear child. A lovely poetry month and always to you dear Merril.
Thank you so much, Holly, and the same to you.
Anne Frank was such a gifted writer at that young age, I always wonder what she could have become.
Such a beautiful heart and mind, I wonder too. Probably anything she wanted to be. A bright shining star.
Quite lovely Merril – tragedy beautifully balanced with rainbow, G.d’s covenant. At least that is how I see it whenever I see one. Anne Frank, such a beautiful soul, Mereille Knoll too, MLK, so many who spoke truth to power. Thank you …
Thank you very much, Susan.
So much to think about…despair…thank goodness for the daffodils!
Exactly, Jennifer! Thank you.
Your characterization of our “leader” is right on the mark. How sad that his voice fosters so much of what should be left behind us.
Thank you, Ken. Yes, it is. He has definitely fostered it.
I wrote a whole long paragraph to you and then my internet and phones went out. Before that my gmail accounts had gone out. And before that, when I got up this morning, I saw the Russian bots were at my WordPress accounts. I began to feel very isolated and yet vulnerable ;).
Anyway, you have an excellent voice, Merril. I was pretty broken up when I read on FAcebook the other day about Mireille Knoll. !@#$%^&*() I am not a big fan of Anne’s words about believing people are good. The way they have been used over the used, and the facts that 1) her father edited the book that way, and 2) she hadn’t experienced the worst yet means that looking back with our historical knowledge gives them a distorted weight. If that makes sense.
Thank you so much for returning to try again, Luanne. To have everything go out like that (Why? Weather?) AND have your WP accounts attacked, too, is isolating and scary. I hope everything is all OK now.
Thank you for the compliment on voice. 🙂
It makes total sense what you said about Anne. I was trying not to overemphasize her words that way, and I also wonder if she would say the same thing after Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. I said to my husband afterward we saw the play, that she has been raised to a sort of sainthood, when she was not.
The play did a good job of portraying her at the beginning as very annoying. And the play was the latest adaptation. In the playbill, they also explained (as you know) how Anne herself was revising her diary.
Oh–also, I had wanted to tell you that this production had a multi-racial cast.
I love blind casting! Of course, I wish there were more of it for the sake of our culture and for the sake of my daughter haha. It’s very unusual, though, to have it in a serious historical play. It tends to be where actual people and history are not as tied to race. But it might go with theme? Yeah, you didn’t overemphasize that aspect as many people do. It has been elevated to the point that it contains no nuance, you know?
Everything is ok now, but others have had the same thing with WP. Jill had it and some of the genealogy bloggers.
A few months ago, I had some kind of comment spamming going on. I did something with my comments, and it stopped. But it had me overwhelmed for a few hours, and it was kind of scary.
Anne was played by a young woman whose last name is Liu. I don’t know her background, and she didn’t look particularly “Asian.” But there were several African-American people in the cast. At first, it was a little bit disconcerting because they were portraying real people who did not look like that, but after a little while, they were just the characters. I think it was done partly to emphasize the theme. I feel that a number of companies in the Philadelphia area are doing color blind casting in many shows now–and also in Jesus Christ Superstar on TV last night.
Remember Cinderella with Brandy and Paolo Montalban? That was a long time ago! JCS should always be “blind cast.” Did you watch it? I have it taped, but haven’t seen it yet, although I looked up Sara’s “I Don’t Know” because it’s one of my daughter’s main songs in her songbook. But I want to watch the whole thing and not see it in pieces on youtube. Can’t wait for Alice Cooper!
I really enjoyed it–except for the commercials, so you’ll be able to fast forward those. There were some great voices, and cool staging, too. I sort of remember Brandy as Cinderella. I so loved Julie Andrews though. 🙂
Brandy was more of a Cinderella to me. And Whitney was great. But the best was Paolo all because of his handsomeness. When I was a kid Leslie Ann Warren was Cinderella, and I never could stand her. And that’s on me because I don’t know why. I found all her mannerisms to be annoying.
I found Leslie Ann Warren annoying, too, but I liked her in Victor Victoria (again, Julie Andrews–haha).
Actually I did, too. And I liked the mini series thing she was in but still didn’t like HER. However, there must have been another time I didn’t mind her because I remember LOVING The Happiest Millionaire so much.
I don’t remember that one. I’ll have to look it up. Oh–speaking of looking things up. The walnut cake was pretty good. Here’s the recipe. I think it might be good with orange zest instead of lemon. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018675-walnut-cake
Thank YOU! I appreciate it, and I love the idea of orange zest because I think he will like that better.
Hi Luanne and Merril! I loved this John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper, the whole cast does tribute to the original 70’s blind casting. Interesting to remember we played (in marching band, stopping to “bend a knee” – – even back then!) two of the “big” songs and the quiet one, “I don’t know how to love him.” We also played two “Godspell” songs only march/dancing!
I was excellent. I enjoyed it.
I was really impressed, too!
You had a cool band, Robin! So, I still have not seen it!!! I’m not a TV person, and the gardener doesn’t want to watch it. I am loathe to put on the TV if I don’t HAVE to have it on (because he watches it more than I like having it on). Ugh, I need to make time!
Hahaha. It’s a dilemma. 😉
I have to think that hope floats and that love prevails. Otherwise… well, I don’t like to contemplate whatever “otherwise” might be.
This is beautiful, touching, deep, almost like a meditation. I feel like I read your poem with my soul or heart rather than my eyes and brain.
Oh my, Robin–your comment almost made me cry (in a good way). Thank you! 🙂
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Thanks so much for sharing!
Dark subjects should be brought out and have light shown upon them. All three separate situations are horrific, the number of deaths in Germany was the “worst” but how can we place a value in one person’s life? These thoughts of mine reacted, intermingled, were trying to untangle like three or more skeins of yarn tossed up into the air and then buried in a mass ditch. Not possible to make sense out of any of this!
Thank you, Robin.
I hope you mean you couldn’t make sense of the horror, and not that you couldn’t make sense of my poem! 🙂