- For Irena Klepfisz
I plotzd on the couch with you,the first poet I'd read with new glasses,me, the same age as my motherwhen she'd died on the plane.At that exact moment.I heard her apron strings snap.
Before that even happened, ancestorshad whispered about other shadows,things a child shouldn't hearpreparing me in a way my parentscouldn't since they'd been too struck dumbby two World Wars.
In third grade we brought shoeboxes for a project.No one knew about my inside diorama, [End Page 14] arms melting near chintz-curtained windows,wind blowing softly through the fire escape.I never saw how closely my face resembled lossuntil I felt how you'd wrestled with its dead weight.
Lenore Weiss lives in Oakland, California. When she's not working as a Webmaster, she's practicing her guitar. Formerly the coordinator of Kehilla Community Synagogue's Middle East Peace Committee, Lenore recently finished teaching a class entitled, "Exploring What it is to be An American Jew in a Violent World." Her most recent collection of poetry, Sh'ma Yis'rael, was released this year from Pudding House Publications.
Poet Irena Klepfisz was born in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941 and spent the first few years of her life there until her father smuggled her and her mother to the Aryan side in 1943. Her mother had Aryan papers and worked as a maid for a Polish family while Klepfisz was placed in a Catholic orphanage. After her father died what many would term a "heroic death" on the second day of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 20, 1943, Klepfisz's mother took her out of the orphanage and they survived the duration of the war in hiding in the Polish countryside. Klepfisz currently teaches Women's Studies at Barnard College in New York. [End Page 15]