Norah

United States

18 | she/they | hypothetical astronaut | ekphrastic poet | haunted house

Message to Readers

I am very angry for a lot of reasons all the time. And sad. Anyway. I'm Ashkenazi Jewish and Irish and probably other stuff both those are the ones I know, and the only "culture" I grew up with was non-practicing Judaism. Also please stop comparing genocides, it's not a good look.

dust across the atlantic

February 27, 2020

PROMPT: Roots

11
I talk about Yiddish like it could have been mine
    and I just grasped
    it with my fingers 
    before the feet stepped off
    the boat into new land
shaking off the dust of Romanian mountains,
    of the pogroms 
and
I talk about Yiddish like it doesn’t make 
me want to cry that my grandmother’s parents
lost their religion on purpose
dug through the attic of their ancestors,
    found nothing of note,
    closed the door
and refused
    to be buried next to the mock
    graves of relatives 
    now only dust
    in fields across the Atlantic
and I don’t know where this cemetery is except
that New York is a good enough homeland for me

my friend talks about the difference 
between the Holocaust and the potato famine
    and I know, that people want their suffering
compared, examined, turned over, bled dry

my ancestors lived in the peat and green too,
    the rain and wet, the ground, the blight
but I know

and I know because I only feel the echoes of one,
sitting in a hotel across from Auschwitz I trying
very hard not to breath, not to make a sound
    and I know in the way one side of my family
    is from the other

do not talk to me about generational trauma, I do not know it
as the children of survivors do

but do not talk to me about generational trauma because
I learned in class that
years ago America could have saved the lives of my ancestors
on the Mountain of my grandmother’s stories
    and they simply refused,
and now, as a result, the step before the fall, the punchline of the joke:
those people are dead
The Romanian Government attempted to ransom thousands of Jews to the US during WWII, saying that if the US gave them money, they wouldn't hand the Jews over to the Nazis. 

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  • February 27, 2020 - 8:55pm (Now Viewing)

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4 Comments
  • Norah

    @anha thank you thank you so much! I love when people love the writing I care about that comes from my soul


    11 months ago
  • Anha

    alright, one more reason to say fuck american and praise your writing. wow. this is like nothing i've ever read before. "talk about Yiddish like it could have been mine / and I just grasped / it with my fingers / before the feet stepped off / the boat into new land", "years ago America could have saved the lives of my ancestors / on the Mountain of my grandmother’s stories"

    you're an icon in the best sense of the word.


    11 months ago
  • efflorescence

    as someone who's also ashkenazi jewish, i could really feel the pain and anger radiating from your piece. the rhythm of the writing in this poem conveyed that really strongly! some favorite lines: "and I don't know where this cemetery is / except New York is a good enough homeland for me", "do not talk to me about generational trauma, I do not know it / as the children of survivors do".


    11 months ago
  • WishfulKittyKat1

    I love the rhythm in this piece. It really makes me feel your anger (if that's even close to the right word, but I can't find a better one right now) about losing what could have been your heritage. I love this so very much


    11 months ago