Tag Archives: Rosalind Adam

Rosalind Adam

Chaim Goldberg, born 1917, in Kazimierz-Dolny, a Polish shtetl, died 2004 in Florida, USA. The Nazis may have destroyed his artwork, but the artist and his memories survived.
 
Dancing across canvas
 
Shtetl life seeps from each canvas.
Taste the fog of smoky nights.
Breathe in the aromas of the Challah bread
baked to welcome in Shabbat
and the festival foods:
Chanukah donuts, Purim cheesecake,
apple and honey for a sweet New Year,
and herrings –  
there were always herrings.
 
Shtetl life stumbled
from Cossack threats and pogroms
to Heil Hitler salutes and conscription.
The Polish army was no place
for a young Jewish artist.
He ran from Warsaw’s barbed wire
but his parents remained,
their words echoing into the ether,
‘The Germans would never hurt us Jews.’
 
When, in time, the artist recreated his portfolio
the Holocaust permeated each canvas
with dark days, yellow stars and dread.
Above the darks he painted spirits
rising from the smoke.
The shtetl was gone but not so its memory
of love and family, of prayer and music.
Each brushstroke echoed the breath
of a thousand souls singing out,
‘Forget, oy oy, forget.
It’s over so why would you not dance?’

Rosalind Adam is a writer living in Leicester, UK. She has had three children’s books published and her poetry has appeared in a number of anthologies. In 2018 she won the G. S. Fraser poetry prize for Fresh Canvas and, in the same year, she was awarded a distinction for her MA in Creative Writing at The University of Leicester.

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Rosalind Adam

All Grandmas spoke Yiddish
when I was five. I now understand
she came from far away
bringing her feather bed
for winter night snuggling
and her candlesticks
for Friday evening prayers.
 
She never spoke of the journey,
of being third class cargo
forced to disembark at Tilbury,
down-wind of discerning Londoners,
scrutinised by Health Inspectors,
defleed, deloused,
dehumanised.
 
She never spoke of the warnings
from Government officials,
from Times letter writers,
even from London Rabbis;
no room, no jobs, don’t come.
She came anyway.
There was no choice.
 
She sought work
sweat-shop-stitching,
cutting, machining,
becoming part of an East End shtetl
with Jewish neighbours, kosher shops,
a Synagogue on every other corner.
She almost forgot to be afraid.

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Rosalind Adam lives in Leicester, UK. She is the author of several children’s history booksincluding The Children’s Book of Richard III. Her poetry has been published in anthologies and online sites. In 2018, she won the G. S. Fraser poetry prize and was awarded a distinction for her Masters in Creative Writing at The University of Leicester.

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