Christina

God slipped away

Today…

Like the wallaby stuck on the rock

Engulfed by floodwaters in Queensland AU

I watched in horror

A family’s grief at the loss of a daughter

Not my daughter

Someone else’s child still dreaming

Of becoming a Congresswoman

Or maybe the President

The first woman of America

To receive that title

Who loved jumping in rain puddles

Like me…

Who loves the August afternoon monsoons

In the Arizona desert

More than Godiva bittersweet

She became everyone’s child

On Saturday morning last

Because God slipped away

To save another, she died

At the hand of a stranger with a gun

Inauspiciously, this nine-year-old

Held the heartstrings of a nation

And brought the universe to its knees

When the President reminded us

“…she is playing in rain puddles in heaven…”

This mother wept, reminding herself

They’re only words, meanings that unleash tears

And in the end, how can you explain

The grief of a mother in words

Anyway…

When God slips away.

All rights reserved.  ©2011 by Sara Fryd

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Frankie

http://www.haemoblues.com/about_you.asp

Seven is too young to die…

You were too little to be so sick.

I watched you lying in a tent,

Helpless

Nothing to give you

Only hugs.

Band-Aids didn’t work anymore

Round face, sad eyes

Pain that could be seen through

The plastic that helped you breathe.

Seven is too young to die…

So little in size, big in spirit

Hospital food, ordinary, boring…

Would sneak you burritos in my purse.

Even without hair

With marks on your head

Your were the most beautiful boy

I’ve ever known

So brave till the end.

Seven is too young to die…

Your parents stopped coming

There were other little ones to care for.

You would have been twenty-eight this year.

Could have gone to your graduation

Or sat in the front row at your wedding.

We shared a lifetime, you and I

In two short years.

Your face will live beside my heart

We will meet again

Seven is too young to die…

And twenty-one years

Is a long time, to wait to cry…

All rights reserved.  ©2009 by Sara Fryd

Gabby

 

The flat screen television

Has become a terrorist

My laptop an instrument of torture

How CNN?  Can you know more about

What happened down the street

Than the news media living on that street

So I leave and drive, heading Southwest

Towards the hospital where you are fighting

For your life…

Beautiful spirit that any Mother

Would be thrilled to call Daughter

Any friend Sis

And everyone else Congresswoman Gabby

Our voice in the Capital, a Jewish woman’s voice

Democracy at work,

Like I was sure it would when I was eighteen

Before John died…

An office to call when you need help

Where human beings still answer the phone

No numbered buttons to push

In a trance, I’m driving down Campbell Ave

To the hospital healing your wounds

Saving your life

I see news trucks in line at the entrance

The light turns, enthralled with constant movement

As if in slow motion

I wonder if you are safe

Praying you are soon out of danger

Back with your family

Welcoming you with open arms

 

We love you.  Our prayers go out to you and your family.

All rights reserved.  ©2011 by Sara Fryd

Heart Conversations

Yiddish was our language.  It was the only common known language Jews spoke to each other throughout Europe.  There were two dialectics – Litvak and Glitzeaner.  Mom spoke one, I spoke the other.   I had two names – Sarinou and Saralle (sweet Sara and little Sara).  Mom and I spoke only Yiddish to each other.  It was always on automatic pilot.  No thought process involved.  I heard her voice my brain responded in Yiddish.  German was my first language, though Yiddish somehow evolved in the refugee camp when the precocious 3-year old wanted to know what all the grown-ups were whispering about.  Mom died February 2006.  This conversation took place at her bedside several days before her death.old_lady

Mom:  “Raialle (her sister in Israel) dost a bissalle perfume?” (Raia do you have some perfume?)

Me:  “Vart a minute, eech ob a bisalle perfume in the car?” (I brought my extra bottle with me to Phoenix.  How did I know to bring it with me?  I never carry perfume in the car.  I ran back to get  it before I drove to Phoenix.  That bit of ESP still eludes me.) 

Me: “Mom, dee vilst perfume?”  (Mom, do you want some perfume?)

Mom:Nu, spritz meech oon. And lipstick, dee ost a bisalle lipstick?”   (Of course, spray me.  And lipstick do have a little lipstick?)

I put lipstick on her; a beautiful bronze color.  Kissed her forehead, kissed her eyes, kissed her face.  She held her face up, the way a baby holds it’s face when your rub lotion on.  She looked a little brighter.  She breathed in the attention and breathed a little easier. 

Mom:  “The government owes me a lot of money.  And when they pay me Saralle (little Sara) we’re going into business.  You know 85 is not too old to go into business, is it?  Dee ost g’zain dain tatte?” (Have you seen your Father? – He’d been dead since August 2005 and they had been divorced since 1976.  We hadn’t told her he had died.  She had a stroke and barely knew who she was.  She spent most of her time speaking to her Father Herschel in a 5 year old Romanian voice.)

Me:  “Eech ob im g’zain.” (I saw him.)

Mom:  “Git, sz’nisht git ts’zain broyges.” (Good, it’s not good to remain angry.)

Mom:  “Sarinou, eech gay shtarbin?”  (Sara, am I going to die?)

Me:  “Mom, you want to die?” I responded completely taken off guard, for how are you ever prepared to lose your parents?

Mom:  “Lobin zeech klapen dem kop in deir vant!” (Let them knock their heads into a wall.  Or in the vernacular talk to the hand).

My knees almost gave out, while I’m trying not to laugh hysterically.  I sat down next to her bed brain racing.  Her body is shot.  She can lift her right arm and her head a little bit, and she can talk (boy can she talk).  I had a good teacher.  Here she is with her body broken, though her spirit, her heart and soul are telling the angel of death to go knock his head into a wall and come and get her if he dares. 

If you can escape Hitler, be homeless for eight years from your late teens, bury your parents and your first born and leave your sisters behind in Uzbekistan (and all before your 25th birthday), travel thousands of miles to Munich, survive a refugee camp with rations of peanut butter, margarine, and white bread for five years, travel by ship three months to America (the land of the free and the home of the brave) and all before your 30th birthday.   What’s a little dying?  Living was the hard part and she did it with gusto and lots of baked goods.  Her apple cake and potato kugel are the stuff of legends, but that’s another story all by itself.

Had fate treated her differently, she would have been Golda Mier and Margaret Thatcher rolled into one being telling the Arabs what they could do with the Palestinians.  She would not have backed down. She had a iron will and though her body is resting finally, her soul will be right there next to all of us telling us to be better and to do better in the only way she knew how.  “Don’t eat bread on Passover,” she would say, our conscience, our angel with an attitude. 

Fate may have been kinder to me. I got to finish college, get the law degree she always wanted.  I got to work in manufacturing and law.  Something she so wanted to do and didn’t get the chance.  I have earned salaries she only imagined.  Traveled to places she wanted to go and didn’t permit herself so she could leave an inheritance to her children and grandchildren.

When all is said and done the Angel of Death is nothing more than another milestone one has to climb before you reach the top of the mountain.  I know that I have only a smidgen of her courage and her will.  But that’s good enough for me.   If I get there, I want to sit next to her in heaven because then I know I’ll be closer to God.

(This was written from hurried notes at her bedside 26 Jan 06 in Scottsdale, AZ while she was sleeping.  Nusha died a week later.)

All rights reserved.  ©2009 by Sara Fryd

Hope Arrives at Daylight

I walked alone upon a road beside a hilllight_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel_l

Where I saw an open grave lying still

All alone beneath a tree, when I came near

The darkness grew, took my sight, left the fear

For there, right there, in front of me

There was my name, inscribed on stone,

          beneath the tree.

Unsure, I tripped, I grasped for land

I grabbed at air, I brushed her hand

Then face to face I came with her, I couldn’t see

I knew not buried yet, the her was me.

She hugged me long, whispered, “Please

don’t cry.  I’ve come to talk, to say good bye.

It’s time for me to go, I’ve done my best.

You’ve grown so much, passed every test.

You’re wiser now, courageous, strong.

I’m tired, it’s time for me to move along. 

I know the journey left in front of you,

Is full of love and stories, too.”

I hugged her back, she felt so warm.

She said, “It’s time to go, you’re on your own.

I have to go, I’ve done my thing.

Lay me to rest next to the spring.

Go on your way and never fear.
The world is warm, your path is clear.”

I turned to face where she had gone,

And saw instead a glowing dawn.

The night had passed, the world was new.

I’d lost myself and found me too.

 

All rights reserved.  ©2009 by Sara Fryd

Nusha’s Guilt

Shadows follow me, from graves at the farmAn-Afghan-places-dirt-over

In Uzbekistan to the snow covered soil of Germany

And the sun dried deserts of Arizona.

The cossack sits on the tractor that turns the plow

Turns the earth over and over

Turning…

The bones of my dead baby boy…  

The bones of my dead parents…

Where I left them behind in shallow graves

While I watched hidden in terror

Fist in my mouth to silence the sobs

Silent…

Tortured…

Tortured and guilty leaving behind sisters

Afraid they will keep us all if they know the truth

The Communists, the Cossacks

Whom do you turn to when life has ended at 24?

Whom do you rage against when everyone hurts?

How do you continue breathing?

Whom do you pray to?

When everyone has died and God is gone?

All rights reserved.  ©2009 by Sara Fryd

*My parents, Holocaust survivors, were never sent to a Concentration Camp in Poland or Germany.  They ran South and East spending WWII in Uzbekistan (Southern Russia) with my Grandparents, Aunts, Cousins.  In 1944, there was a great famine and most of the family died prior to my birth.  This poem is in the voice of my Mother who lived the experience of losing her first born son, Alex and her parents Hershel and Sara.  As happened to most of her generation of Holocaust survivors, she was unable to speak of the horror, the hurts, so I speak for her now, though she’s gone.

Retirement Home

                                                                                                                         Leonardo da Vinci

He waited…old man

His face stuck against the seventh floor window.

Waited for someone to come, to visit.

The only thing he saw at that height

Were birds and window washers.

Where are they all?

The nephews, nieces, children, grandchildren?

The ones remembered

With presents on their birthdays.

Always an excuse, a reason, another day

Maybe another birthday

Sunday spent alone…

Alone with strangers…

Playing Scrabble waiting for the phone to ring.

Like seagulls after scraps with wings outstretched

They were there

When his furniture needed a new home

Mementos were given away

Valuables being passed out.

So he read and studied through the days

Counted ceiling tiles at night

And waited to die.

They forgot…

Forgot about all the times

He got up at the crack of dawn

So there were always cookies

Around when they were hungry.

Forgot about all the colds he cured

            all the people he helped

            all the stories he told

       over and over, again.

So he wouldn’t be left alone again

            alone with strangers…

I wonder if any of them understand.

The ones who will spend his money.

What it’s like to be eighty-seven

            and know you’re never going home?

 

 

*Jack was my father-in-law and my friend.