At school, my sons received two candles bearing names of fallen brothers,
Jews who fell between the cracks years after leaving grieving mothers.
With kindled flame, we huddled close and all pronounced their names aloud,
Never shall they be forgotten, unrecalled or disavowed.
We prayed for them and asked that G-d grant solace to their families,
And for the umpteenth time I swore to disallow such tragedies.
“Never Again” — my heart cried out — “Never Again” — my soul lamented,
“Just an empty declaration,” my pragmatic mind dissented.
“Anyone can light a candle, say a prayer or make a vow,
But what’s it worth if our own youth can’t see beyond the here and now?”
My sons sat there transfixed by light, awash the glow of memorial flames,
I witnessed true awakening — at once their grief bore human names.
They’d never before heard “Never Again,” nor many stories about war,
As I’d come to rely so heavily on beloved survivors who had come before.
At every occasion that I can recall, the tales of horror were deftly retold,
Darkest evil, greatest strength, unwavering faith and nerve to behold.
Holocaust stories of woe and heroics, miraculous feats, hand of G-d,
My youth was replete with detailed accounts that opened my eyes and left me awed.
But now that those angels are quite done surviving, it is I who my sons must ask,
To learn about loss, love and “Never Again” — I just hope that I’m up to the task.