Vera Meisels I also know snow in menacing dawns when we were breathless in case our vapor would reach the dogs searching for us. Presentation Sarit Shatz
DOMINO - Vera's story Vera Meisels, Poet, Sculptor and Translator. Mother of daughter and son, was born in Czechoslovakia on June 11, 1936. At the age of eight, she was taken to the Theresienstadt ghetto. In 1949 she immigrated to Israel. She studied sculpture at the Avni Institute. Her poems were published in Iton 77, Ma'ariv, Ravkol and the Slovakian translation in Romboid- Bratislava and Elan- Prague. Books: Israel, 1997 "Searching for Relatives"(Hebrew) published by Gevanim Prague, 2001 "Svetluska v Terezine" in Czech language published by G&G Prague 2001 "Terezin's Firefly " English. translated by Riva Rubin . published by G&G Bratislava 2005 "Moje vytrhnute korene" in Slovak language, published by SNM Beit-Terezin THERESIENSTADT photo Viera Kamenicka My mother tongue is unknown to you my father's isn't spoken here my birth tongue is not longer with me I dream in tongues, my roots are torn.
It's not clear it's all getting blurred I'm assailed by searches and proofs. They tell me "Go, it'll close a circle", while for me it's all parallel lines like railroad tracks into the distance; remembering myself in the boxcar clattering over them. A scrap of barred sky overhead, looking for a lost doll, the moon racing eye to eye with me in the aperture, as if it was crossed out by a barbed-wire X. RETURN TO THERESIENSTADT And now, I arrive at the ghetto again, standing opposite the "kinderheim" I see a house with arched ceilings, walls, surviving layers of whitewash and try to find a scratch, a bit of my name. I search for a familiar little corner and there's the "high" knob of the heavy gate I could never reach to prove It was locked. I touch and caress it in my gnarled hand and the knob seems to shrivel in my fist. Vera's drawing in the ghetto
The trees no longer give shade against the scorching sun, looking somehow thin, their leaves have fallen into windswept piles. The firefly pushes through the leaves, often covered completely, its glow hidden to near extinction. It seems that even if someone cared, they couldn't get it out unharmed. And I remember being broucek- Little Firefly- In the play based on Jan Karafiat's book. On the Terezin ghetto stage, I danced before the packed hall and the terrifying officers in the front row and dreading the end because of the skull on their caps. Afterwards I learned they just wanted to prove that culture distracts the mind from hunger. FIREFLY
I imagine him again, the scar this time deeper in his forehead. His face flows purple as though he is the saint of a Byzantine icon. The eyes regard me in constant apology for not taking me in time to the Luna Park. MY FATHER
I saw you looking out at me from the screen I heard you telling about the eighty lashes you withstood without a sob and about the eighty- first blow, their disbelief, that landed on you after the liberation from the camps after your wounds had scabbed on your body, that was the hardest of all. So close to you, I looked at you wanting to touch your body scars and the others trying to caress you through the glass screen, to take you to my bosom. And you were exposed to the whole House of Israel tuned to the national channel, unable to know that one, watching you, was lashing herself again and again without counting. DOCUMENTARY FILM: THE 81st BLOW The poem appeared in the "Journal of Genocide Research" in New York To Michael Goldman-the boy
I tied a rope to an empty shoebox to pull my lost doll. MY LIBERATION DAY MAY 8 1945 And once again I had "toys", played "shop" I scraped a brick from a ruin to make "paprika" wrapped in a scrap of newspaper announcing Relatives Sought. I made myself a weathervane to check how the wind blew, to find my direction.
Like an animal trained to hide in a burrow silently lest it be discovered, so she stifles her cries has sentenced herself to silences humiliating adaptations and measured steps. Like a trained animal that knows its corner, has learnt its worth that bows its head collapses as if it must again find a hidingplace HIDINGPLACE
Awakened by indeterminate stress I open my eyes a thin crack through which I continue to see the images I’ve been dreaming. Still dark. The lampshade lawn green, a beam of light on my hotel bed, me in it pale as the one in Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson. The wallpaper encircles me in lines etched to look like iron bars, spinning my head, keeping me stuck. I don’t know how or where to put down my foot. “ A change of scene,” my well-wishers said, “ will do you a world of good.” VACATION NIGHTMARES
Whittled wooden board scorched and warped rough and unpolished. Everything has fallen from you that could pad a bone, you are not easy on the eye or to touch, but I loved the way the wood flakes fell through my fingers until you were revealed to me. You are close to me, years I've waited to take you from the drawer of my darkness, as if till now your existence was just between us. MY MUSSELMAN STATUE Vera's statue is in the Yad Va'shem Museum in Jerusalem
On the cork notice board in the kitchen opposite morning coffee notes are affixed by colored pins. The sight is like a collection of butterflies on display or drawings of my childhood behind walls. The butterflies! I never saw them desperately fluttering after pollen, but their lifespan was also short. on my board the dates march on till REMINDERS
Still a few days till Holocaust day the date marked on the calendar in a different color, generally grey but not a holiday- business is as usual, public transport flows, government offices are open one can even renew a passport get a visa to America for a visit or immigration the Embassy is open unlike the day when a refugee from the inferno had no address other than the Gates of "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" where he came without a passport prior appointment or reservations. HOLOCAUST DAY my neighbor has expressed the wish that when the time comes his tombstone will be inscribed no. A 93278
Reflexes were checked, in spite of stupors and temporary catatonia the stethoscope circled on a bowed back, bumped into almost exposed ribs, as for pressure, blood- pressure was measured. Eyes remembered numbers at the optical check. They weighed the limbs contained within pallor, they couldn't handle emotions. AFTER THE LIBERATION Cecilia Biagini Vera six months after the liberation
Once I was protected in my childhood serenity. Padded with endearments some I gave to my teddy bear and my doll who was then still able to keep her eyes open. When the strangers came to hang on me a number written on cardboard, they wouldn't give me a little cardboard for my teddy bear and my doll. I didn't want to leave them, so I asked very nicely, but the strangers were furious and ripped my doll from me because I was holding it tight – so I was left with my doll's torn-off arm. At least my teddy bear stayed whole. We stood outside for a long time and I wasn't allowed to talk or ask questions. I was very cold and I only wanted to say that my teddy bear was lucky that they didn't want to give him a number. TEDDY BEAR UNDER AN EIDERDOWN
From my father's legacy I have a Czechoslovakian crystal ashtray. He bore his life in mortifying smoke burying deep blocked sights miserly in sharing his suffering. The ashtray in front of me fills with the stubs of my life. FROM MY FATHER’S LEGACY
On my palms I count my lifelines branching off as if each crack had a continuation almost hypnotized, hands outstretched as for charity. And when I get tired I lift them to shield my eyes the way my grandmother blessed the Shabbat candles – the candlesticks have disappeared, too. SHABBAT Marc Chagall
Of all people, she, the anonymous one who has folded her past inside herself, where nobody can get through to it, comes every morning to open her storeroom of secondhand clothes and objects. Her smile cheers everyone bringing crammed boxes and plastic bags. Slowly she pulls out each unwanted item. Carefully, caressingly she smoothes and folds it. She, of all people, is folding again as she did over there, in the barracks where she stood before a heap of personal belongings — destined by kind fate to be a sorter in the Canada Block* THE FOLDER *Canada was the ironic name for the hard labor unit in Auschwitz whose task was to collect the belongings ofvictims in the “shower rooms” – the gas chambers – and other places under the stern supervision of the SS, so that they could be sent to enrich the Third Reich. She, of all people, goes on folding. Now near the end of her days, she carries on without bitterness, attentively stacking parcel after parcel securely tied to arrive intact for refugees left destitute just as she was, in those days. She, of all people.
Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor My E-mail [email_address] . net Thank you for watching Translated from Hebrew by Riva Rubin 24.1.07