Teacups Over Yellow Stars

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In the stillness of a teacup morning

in Amsterdam a crowd with yellow stars

query each other, a collapse of

suitcases and stuffed pillow cases

huddled under a gas lamp at a corner square,

while those in the stories above slowly turn away.

 

A few days before the yellow stars were

twenty-one children with backpacks

dreaming of a long field trip to Deventer.

The school picture they posed for would

be discovered fifty-four years later

under the frame of an oil painting

of the freedom monument in Dam Square.

 

Sieg, wandering in the fog of Bergen-Belsen

his classmates part of the mound

of George Rodgers well published frieze,

the only one of them not camera shy,

made it back to his mother and sister,

forever now a New York Jew.

 

Before them the square hosted

the frail bones of yellow star seniors,

their children depositing them

silently and hurriedly under

the hiss of the lamp shutting

off from the night watch.

 

Daan sewed the photo

of his yellow star grootmoeder

on a wooden chair staring into the sun

into  the lining of his jacket

and felt its pressure on the day

when the train arrived for him too.

 

The freight train to the Westbrook stockyard

the stench of manure, piss, fetid hay,

the old scent of cattle mingling with man,

fear embedded in every board,

was, as always, on time.

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