Inclusion and Exclusion in Our Daily Lives
PART V: FAMILY & HISTORY
AFTER for Judith Meisel
After her hair was pulled out
After she stood in line for the showers and the German guard gave her 3 seconds to run from the line from her mother from her mother's last scream Run Judith, run
After the march in high snow the women in clogs and dress soldiers shooting the ones too slow
After the gray sky divided for the light for the bombers and the soldiers ran like the women after she dragged her sister to the distant house hid in the coal bin undetected
After eating leftovers every night from a basin on the floor hands tied behind her back for the amusement of the woman and her children
After chopping wood gathering twigs then hearing moans finding the German soldier
bleeding and in pain
After telling him I'll get help
tying his legs with her apron
pulling dragging him
to the house with her sister running out
Why are you doing this?
And Judith answering
Because I am alive Because I am human
Why is the poem life-affirming?
What inspired you to write this poem? Being in physical proximity to Judith Meisel, and seeing how circumstances cannot stop her from doing good works. The holocaust didn't stop her, her years' long battle with cancer doesn't stop her. She is willing to be involved in any injustice. Her strength gives me strength. She is an example of the individual responding to the very worst by becoming the very best. All the machinery and brutality of WWII is defeated by the example of Judith Meisel and the number of lives her example has influenced. She did not waste time on bitterness or hate. She dedicated her life, to education and spreading the word of tolerance and peace, from the time she was rescued by the Danish at age 15. We all need hope and encouragement in every measure. Her example continues to inspire me. How true to life is it for you now? It will always be true because Judith is a living example of an axiom, an ideal, of the best in human motivation and accomplishment. This kind of truth does not diminish or tarnish.
How did writing the story change your understanding of the situation and of yourself and of the dynamics of inclusion or exclusion? It deepened my appreciation of anyone's struggle, and reminded me of the importance of not accepting boundaries and limitations to our striving to do good works in our world.
From this point, having written the piece, what freedoms might you give your characters or yourself that you weren't able to see before writing the poem? The freedom to hope. The freedom to keep trying. These always needs replenishing.
CAROL DeCANIO is the poetry
columnist for CASA Magazine. She is a recipient of The Arts Fund Individual
Artist Award in Poetry, and has had art exhibits of her poetry paired with her
photography. Her poems GIANTS and SHELTER are available in letterpress
editions. Carol organizes poetry events in Santa Barbara.