A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I’m lucky: autumn is flawless today,
sidewalks freckled rust and red, and the sun
gentle. I’ll take the back streets to the bookstore –
it’s a longer ride – but I avoid the street where
St. John the Evangelist Church faces that seedy building
with a sign flashing
Jews for Jesus
I don’t know what happened to Judith Aaron,
placed in 1945 at the Mater Immaculata convent
in Brussels, after she was repatriated from Bergen-Belzen.
Judith who waited eleven years for some — any — next of kin
to claim her. No one ever came to the black and brass door.
And we never saw her again after
she turned eighteen and left that very morning, still
wearing the convent uniform, but the blouse open
three buttons down and the socks low on her white ankles.
She left on a sleety October day, years after —
from under a bed in the infirmary — I’d seen
what the nuns did to her
when she confessed she had touched herself:
bending her over, pulling down her panties to
ram the longest part of an ivory crucifix into her,
hissing: HE is the Only One Who Can Come
Inside You — No One Else— You Hear?
She didn’t let out a sound, not a sigh:
the pallor of survival carved into her face
when she pulled her panties up again.
I think she made it: she was of the stone
statues are made from. And yet, I still search —
Judith, I can’t stop searching for signs we made it,
you, me and the others,
signs I find in the smallest things:
a flawless sky, a leaf autumn
turns, an open gate.
Copyright 2018 Laure-Anne Bosselaar