- A Dress for My Child
I would sew a dress for you, my child,out of tulle made of spring's joyful green,and gladly crown your head with a diademmade of the sunniest smiles ever seen.
I would fit out your feet with a pairof crystal-like, weightless, dance-ready shoes,and let you step out of the house with bouquets,bright with the promise of pinks and of blues.
But outside it is cold and dreary, my child;the wanton winds lurking unbridled and wild.They will mangle the dress of joy into shredsAnd sweep the sun's smiling crown off your head,
grind into dust the translucent glass of your shoesand bury in mud the dreams of pinks and of blues.From far away I can hear you call me and moan:"Mother, mother, why did you leave me alone?" [End Page 64]
So perhaps I should tailor a robe for you, my child,out of the cloak of my old-fashioned painand alter my hat of experience for youto shelter you from the ravaging rain?
I would shoe your feet with my own heavy boots,the soles studded with spikes from my saviourless pastand guide your way through the door with a rushlightof wisdom I've saved till this hour of dusk.
But outside it is cold and dreary, my child.The wanton winds lurking unbridled and wildwill rip up the robe sewn with outdated thread,bare your chest to all danger, to fear bare your head.
The heavy boots will sink in the swamp and will drown,the light of wisdom mocked by the laugh of a clown.From a far I hear you call me and moan:"Mother, mother, why did you leave me alone?"
What a wretched seamstress your mother is,incapable of sewing a dress for her child!All she does is prick her clumsy fingers,cross-stitching her soul, while her eyes go blind.
The only thing that I can sew for you, my sweet, my golden child,is a cotton shift of the love I storein my heart. The only thing I can give to light your wayare my tears of blessing; I have nothing more.
So I must leave you outside, my child, and leave you there alone.Perhaps dressed in clothing of love you will learn better how to go from home.So I sit here and sew and sew, while in my heart I hope and pray—my hands, unsteady, tremble, my mind, distracted, gone astray. [End Page 66]
- אַ קלײד פֿאַר מײַן קינד
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Chava Rosenfarb is an award-winning Yiddish novelist and a survivor of the Holocaust. She is the author of the novels Bociany, Of Lodz and Love and The Tree of Life: A Trilogy of Life in the Lodz Ghetto. Her short story collection, Survivors: Seven Short Stories, won the MLA's Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Award for Yiddish Studies in 2006 and the Helen and Stan Vine National Jewish Book Award for 2005. Chava's website is http://chavarosenfarb.com