We Can Walk Far Today Says Gazela

This morning we fancied ourselves carefree

dreamed futures flushed with food and promise

(we are youngish) set each step with grit.

Some other day we trudged in spattered terror trembling

scanned down the road spun out in front

of us mile + mile each footfall close, afraid

in these dusty bleakest times to be a Jew in flight.

Peasants skulked round every bend, stacked in goyim towns

waiting to kill a Jew. And so we ran with two shekels

in our purse, oh god we are safe are we not (we are alien)

fleeing poverty blood libel pogroms soldiers bent

on rape & rage, starvation & death, fled on foot like in the old Exodus

clouds of Jews, set out from

Piatra Neamt in the foothills of the Carpathians (half the town was Jewish)

just married, each night we slept in a field

among fellow Fusgeyers wayfarers streaming out

from crushing villages — we walked all the way to Rotterdam, me

wrapped in shawl & serge, my darling Moritz holding a carpet bag — got

so much nothing, you know, just two Jews among a panoply

of hand to mouth folks walking (staggering) under the weight of dismay

to board a ship and never talk about the old country ever.

Note: between 1898 and 1904 70,000 Jews including my grandparents Gazela and Moritz fled Romania, many of them on foot.

About Karen To and Fro

Everything you didn't want to know about me!
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