Literature and Poetry/
Holocaust Remembrance Day

Natan Alterman

About the boy Avram

While he was sleeping on the steps of his home in Poland at the end of the war, he is afraid to sleep in his bed

 

A Polish town

A loud moon

And as always clouds sailing by

When night-time comes the boy Avram

Sleeps on the stone steps of his home.

 

His mother comes to him

And her feet do not touch the ground

And says: Avram, the night is cold and wet

Come home, to your made up bed

 

And Avram answers her:

Mother, mother

I will not sleep in a bed like any other child

Because I have seen you

Mother, mother

Asleep and in your heart a slaughtering knife

 

Then his father comes to him and gives him his hand

And berates him, transparent and tall

And says to him: Avram, come home immediately

My son Avram, come home quickly.

 

And Avram answers him:

Father, father

There I will be afraid to close my eyes

Because I saw you there

Father, father

Sleeping quietly without a head on your shoulders

 

Then his younger sister comes to him

And calls him to come home crying.

However Avram answers her, you sleep

With the tears of death on your cheek.

 

The seventy nations come to him

And say:

Here we are!

With seventy orders of law and seventy axes

We will return you home!

 

And we will place you in your made up bed

And you will sleep there silently like your father!

 

And Avram in a dream

Cries out “Father”!

And calls out the name of his mother and she answers:

My son, be happy...because if I had a knife in my heart

My heart would be broken in two

 

And in the night there was silence

And the moon dimmed,

And against the shine of the black hunting daggers

Our Lord spoke to Avram, to Avram

Who was sleeping in the corridor of his home

 

Saying: Don’t be afraid

Don’t be afraid Avram

I will make you great and excellent

Go on, through the slaughtering knife night and blood

To the land that I will show you

 

Go on throughout the slaughtering knife night and blood

As an animal, as scarlet, as a bird

I will bless you Avraham

And curse your curses

 

*

 

- Thus, this chapter in the chronicles of the times

Where the world calls out: the refugee problem!

But that is not the problem

The clerks are heroes....

And not the one tearing up files and wire!

 

And not the one leading the ships to the sea!

Because they are led by ancient and high thunder

Because they are led by the order of the births of the nation

Because they are led by the word of the Lord to Avram

 

*

 

And Avraham shall fear and fall on his face

And he shall leave the house and the gate

Because the order that thundered over Avram the father

Shall thunder over Avram the young man

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