THE YELLOW STAR HOUSE
Look at a daffodil bud
Watch it open slowly
And burst into a star
The black nights of 1944
Were full of yellow stars
That grew on houses in Buda-Pest
Over doorposts and gateways
As harbingers of dwellings
Where daffodil blooms could live.
Badges of their tribe
Were sewn on breasts;
Even my daughter’s doll wore one.
Stars tattooed like numbers
Pointed to daffodils picked
By the cutting east wind.
The house I left in the morning
Was not where I lived in the evening,
We were moved to the daffodil fields.
We played in the streets,
If we couldn’t get home
We turned our shirts inside out.
Graffiti was painted on walls
“Imrédy zsidó”.* We assembled
At Szent Istvan Park.
At night I read by moonlight,
The skylights broke in the siege
My bed was covered with snow.
In the streets there was always
Paprika Potato stew,
Even the devil had to eat.
The Hagadah¹ tells of the Blood
of Lamb daubed on doorposts
For the angel of death to pass over.
Prayer says you were freed
From tyrants and oppressors,
But old prayers do not tell
The story of daffodils.
God forgot the history He wrote,
And the Covenant He made.
After long days and nights
The daffodils bent over
They wept and withered out like stars
We were sent to a brick factory
Our bulbs in paper bags
Waiting for the wagons.
¹ Hagadah is “The Telling” in Hebrew, and it is the story told at the Passover ceremony held in the home and called “The Seder” which means Order of service.
*Imrédy is a Jew.
Note: This poem refers to the incident during the Autumn of 1944 when the Administrators of Buda Pest decreed that Jews should be moved out of their houses to different accommodation. Over the entrance Doors and Gates of these these new dwelling places, there was placed a Yellow Star.
I bought a pair of gloves
put them on and wore you,
touched them to my face,
they smelled of your musk.
As I put my hand inside
I could feel the fur of your skin.
Remember the rhythm of the rocking sea
The swell and collapse of the rising, falling tide.
We could swim through waves
Until the still silence reached the shore
And our skins melted together
When the gloves were one with you and me.
STAY WITH ME
“Will you stay with me” she said
Their bodies entwined
On the leaves of old vines.
“I think we fit well together” she said
Looking at their reflection
In the window of the wind.
“We will walk through a carpet of blossom,” she said
“Hand in hand, like fitted gloves,
In the groves of plaited vines.”
“Stay with me” she said
The Sirens sang Calypso’s song
Luring them to the green trailing leaves.
“Stay with me,” she said
Dreaming on their island
In the archipelago of memory.
“Stay with me here, now, forever,”
And we will eat grapes from vines
Plaited together like us.
WE HELD HANDS
We held hands under the covers.
They could never see us in our duvet dark.
We dreamed of birds and horses,
And before we awoke
Our dreams slipped through our fingers
And vanished liked winged Pegasus.
Itching, scratching, puffing,
Turning to ease the pain of age,
Eyelids heavy with the veil of hazy sleep
On clouds we are borne away
Fingers curl around words walking through woods
To save them for the light before forgetting.
Birds fly up out of trees
Horses whinny in stable yards.
WHEN WE LAY BY ROCKS
Remember when we lay by rocks
In long green grass
And dived into the dark blue sea
Wallowing in the deep waters
Of your love, coming in and going out,
Like the tide and wind
Blowing spume from the tops of waves
Looking up from under the water
At the shape of passing clouds
Finding our way in the dark recess
Of your cave, by the soft sound
Of sea birds who came and dived
And cawed loudly as heaven and earth moved
Before veils of sleep came down
Like shutters from the purple mountain.