Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

From the Graves of My Ancestors

Our tradition teaches us
That respecting the dead
Is the truest act of kindness
Since they cannot defend their honor.
How do I explain this
To the jovial woman in Thessaloniki
Who tells me that her father built his home
Using whatever stones he could find,
And shrugs when I ask
Whether he noticed
The engravings?
Or to schoolchildren in Vilna
Playing basketball in a court
Walled in by fragments of rock
Carved with Hebrew?
How do I explain this
To the municipality of Barcelona
That wants to build public bathrooms
Over the ancient Jewish cemetery
On Montjuïc?
How do I explain
That no amount of dirt
Or time
Can bury the fact
That no Jews have been buried here
For six hundred years
Because there were no Jews left to bury,
Or the fact that the tombstones
That proclaimed their presence
Were taken,
With crude indifference—
Just like their lives—
And now line the streets of the Old City they called home,
Where you can still see their names
Calling silently from the walls?

About the Author

Daniella Levy is the author of By Light of Hidden Candles (Kasva Press, 2017) and Letters to Josep: An Introduction to Judaism (Guiding Light Press, 2016), and her articles, short fiction, and poetry have been published by Writer’s Digest, ForwardReckoning, Newfound, Jewish Literary Journal, Silver Birch Press, and more. Born in the USA, she immigrated to Israel with her family as a child, and currently lives at the edge of the Judaean Desert with her husband and three sons. Visit her online at Daniella-Levy.com.