Maia Zelkha

Poem: Those Who Stand for the Siren

Memorial day for the war dead. A wrinkled book soaked with age and rain: “The Sorrow is Gigantic.” Our heart-sick holy day, with our sick, holy prophets crying from cursed dreams. 

A mother and father who lost their son in the war now count their days with the number of gray hairs on their heads; today, two hundred and twenty six days have passed. 

Poetry bloated with ghosts; and we who read them, haunted. Three killed yesterday, the news reported. Not tears, but the fluid of psalms. “My tears were my bread day and night when all day they say to me, Where is your God?”

Zechor spelled out with burning leaves. A forest fire. A scorched moon. 

Six killed, the radio hummed. A great and terrible siren bellowed; three brave little boys stood tall, ready to be swallowed. The rest of us hid in stillness and silence. 

Nothing to say; if we tried, we might be swallowed by all we have lost. 

Twelve wounded. Good world, sweet world soaked with love and rain. 

More jumbled laments swollen with stupid letters. 

A castle of salt, its pillars built from those who kept looking back. 

The Kaddish stuck in my throat.

About the Author
Maia Zelkha is a writer living in Jerusalem. Her work has been featured in publications such as the Jewish Book Council, Parabola, and Vision Magazine. She can be contacted at
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