Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Donald Krieger: Unveiling

October 30, 2018, three of eleven killed at The Tree of Life Synagogue were buried.One of the three was husband to my co-worker and friend.

Eleven lives taken 
at The Tree of Life – hours later
and miles away, our writing workshop 
canceled, our chance for defiance
however small
gone.
 
I waited at the funeral 
with hundreds to pass security, 
newsboys on the street asking 
with their cameras, Who is afraid? 
 
I watched her halting walk to his grave, 
reluctant like a child. 
 
I followed like a child
with a shovelful of earth 
to cover him. 
 
I listened to the learned 
seeking meaning, hundreds crowded 
into the Beth Shalom basement, 
police in armor at the entrance. 
 
When the doors locked behind us, 
I noticed the dampness
and a draft on my bare neck. 
 
Today was eleven months, 
hundreds standing witness 
in the warmth beneath the trees. 
 
I still live so I was there.
 
I wonder though
would we cancel our workshop
for a drive-by at a playground? 

The poem commemorates the Tree of Life murders 
on October 27, 2018. The title refers to the 
Jewish custom of the ceremonial uncovering 
of the gravestone 11 months after a loved one 
has died.
 
Copyright 2020 Donald Krieger. An earlier version 
of this poem appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
October 13, 2019.
Etz Hayim, (עץ חיים, meaning “Tree of Life”), is a common term used in Judaism. The expression can be found in Genesis 2:9, referring to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. It is also found in the Book of Proverbs, where it is figuratively applied to “the Torah” Proverbs 3:18, “the fruit of a righteous man” Proverbs 11:30, “a desire fulfilled” Proverbs 13:12, and “healing tongue” Proverbs 15:4.

2 comments on “Donald Krieger: Unveiling

  1. Don Krieger
    October 30, 2020

    Thank you to the editors for printing “Unveiling” and to all who read it.
    Here’s is a recorded reading by the author: https://youtu.be/HFl7hZKtZhk

    Like

  2. rosemaryboehm
    October 27, 2020

    Very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

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