Age: 14, Grade: 9
School Name: New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math High School, New York, NY
Educator: Ellen Sands
I’m sitting here again.
The dusty couch of memories.
I come here every week
To see her
The frail woman
Almost translucent skin
Snow white hair dyed brown
Hazel eyes and a smile of missing teeth.
Today I sit with what she calls a biscuit
Eggs and sugar, nothing more.
On another day, it would be apples.
“Great-grandma, tell me about your life.”
“Of course, my solnyshko, my sunshine.”
She clears her throat and begins,
The stories of positive things.
She remembers what she wants to.
We forget what we want to.
But there are unspoken horrors
That a textbook can’t tell me
And from her I want to know.
The only story of pain I’ve heard
Is of my grandpa
Died in a plane crash
When my dad was a little boy.
Stories I wish to hear
Are buried deep in that brilliant mind
If not forgotten
Buried beneath memorized poems of childhood
And languages, codes that she learned
Morse Code she prides herself in.
One day I heard
A slew of tangled memories
It was as if she was holding on to them
And she did not want to let go.
But I was only ten,
And now I’m scrambling to remember the blood and pain that she does not speak of
Blood on the snow
That someone’s always watching you
But sometimes I feel like it’s just my imagination
That she said nothing at all.
Suitcases rolled to a train platform
Smoke and shots fired into the air.
Seized by Germans
Death in trenches
Arrested for being a jew
Captured and killed
Is it my imagination?
Is dying out
And I might never know the truth.
And I can’t bring myself to force her to
There she is smiling
I take a bite out of my biscuit
And I listen.