Jacqueline Burnley
The Last Levite Chinese Brush Artist Baalat Teshuva

Auf wiedersehen Grandma

(Jacqueline Burnley)
(Jacqueline Burnley)

Auf wiedersehen Grandma

The troll at the cemetery gate
Would not help us find
The entrance to the maze
In the Berlin Jewish cemetery.

The two guards
Faced one another across a big wooden desk,
And said that their English was, “shrecklich!”
So, therefore, they couldn’t help us.
Oh yes!
“Mein Deutsch ist auch shrecklich,”
I said,
“Zusammen wir kanst das tuen!”

I showed a picture of a rare beauty,
I put her photo down on the desk.
“I am looking for her!”
He gave us a map,
It looked a long way away.

Holding our breath,
We walked slowly,
Arm in arm in the maze,
Along the straight avenue of ancient trees.

A golden October carpet spread out
Beneath our feet.
It felt soft and wet
As the rain melted down,
Across our tear-streaked faces,
For the grandma, we didn’t know.

Speechless, we searched for
The princess who died almost one hundred years ago,
Asleep in the forest,
In her ivy-clad coffin tower.
“Sorry, we took so long to get here
Grandma Anna!”
“We, too, have been sleeping in our busy lives!”

Umbrellas turned inside out,
We left them, abandoned and caught up,
In the low lying barbed wire branches.
The sharp wind grabbed us and begged us,
Like clutching fingers, to stay,
And our wet feet and shoes
Were becoming tangled up
In the long grass.
I lost my shoe and felt afraid.

We were walking like dreamers,
In the fairy tale castle woods,
In Wannsee, Berlin, October 24th 2017.
We cleaned the stones,
Read in German the message of
Who you were. Your life!
We told you of your brave ones,
Some still live on,
With their stories, packed in cases.

We said goodbye,
And then lost ourselves.
We drove back to the Brandenburg Gate, separately.
The living ones,
Having had a bust-up in the cemetery gardens.
In the morning we flew back home to Ben Gurion Airport.


About the Author
I was born in London, England. My father was a Holocaust survivor, he fought for the British forces and was a strictly disciplined soldier of the highest intelligence using his many languages to his advantage in the War. He met and married my mother during the war in a whirlwind of ten days of romance, which we laughed and cried about for the next 50 years. I studied Art and English, qualified as a teacher, and used my skills to work all my life. My husband loved Israel and came as a lone soldier in the 1970s. We married and had two children. I became a Baal Teshuva and have been a long, interesting, transformative journey. I made aliyah by myself, in 2007 and against all odds cut ties with my country of birth, left my career, friends and family, to be near my family here, and to be blessed to be together with my grandchildren growing up In Israel.
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