Monthly Archives: March 2015


by Jacqueline Jules (Arlington, VA)

Eight years after
the seven-day candle in the tall red glass,
I light a small candle
and consider your existence
in a realm beyond my knowledge.
If life on earth is only one stage in a series,
you could be safe in an ethereal cocoon,
preparing to emerge with splendid wings in Eden.
I’m ashamed to say
your transformation into something better
brought little comfort to me in the beginning,
as I decried my status as a caterpillar,
a frightened worm, vulnerable to a large and hungry bird.

Living without you
was never as difficult
as living with your death.
The burial of a face
that still smiles at me in photographs
seemed, at times, slightly less credible
than spaceships landing on my lawn.
If I believed in death before,
it was the same way I believed in another universe
and other life forms—somewhere out there—
I wasn’t prepared . . . .

To light a candle every year in place of going out to dinner,
seeing a play or planning a party. This summer
would have marked twenty-five years together.
Would we have gone dancing? A little circle
of light flickers on the ceiling, waltzing with the shadows.
I smile. You are dancing for me,
whirling in the endless light of memory.

Jacqueline Jules is the author of many Jewish children’s books including Never Say a Mean Word Again, The Hardest Word, Once Upon a Shabbos, Sarah Laughs, Miriam in the Desert, and Goodnight Sh’ma. Visit her at

“Anniversary” appears in Stronger Than Cleopatra, a collection of poems about going forward in the face of loss. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author. For more about the book, visit ELJ Publishing at

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Filed under American Jewry, Family history, Jewish identity, poetry

Arbeit Macht Frei

by Sarah Lamstein (Newton, MA)

Too weak for work
I go to the showers.
Death cradles my skull like Leah,
who stroked my thin hair
on a barrack’s shelf.
Skeletal, she picked at lice.

Leah, I am clean.

“Arbeit Macht Frei,” a poem from Sarah Lamstein’s new poetry chapbook Breathless (, was submitted in response to Janet Kircheimer’s Jewish Writing Project post on her film about poets’ responses to the Holocaust.

Sarah Lamstein’s children’s books include Annie’s Shabbat and Letter on the Wind/A Chanukah Tale. She lives in Newton, MA.




Filed under European Jewry, poetry