A mother slices an apple for her fussy daughter,
serves it on a special plate.
A starving girl finds a shriveled apple core,
shares it with her little brother.
A woman in an Amtrak Club Car travels
to see her elderly parents.
A woman on an Auschwitz-bound boxcar
cradles her father’s bloodied head.
A boy at summer camp, tucked snug in his top bunk,
dreams of stars.
The boy’s great-great-uncle lives with rats and a hundred men
in a Bergen-Belsen barracks.
Young friends skinny-dip at a bend in the river.
Jews of Budapest are driven like cattle to the banks of the Danube,
stripped of their shoes and shot before being dumped in.
A teen playing hide-and-seek finds the perfect hiding spot behind a bookcase
in an attic; gets bored and emerges in less than an hour.
A teen, diary in hand, hides with seven other people in an attic behind a bookcase
for eighteen thousand two hundred sixty-four hours
before being dragged out by Gestappo and sent to her death.
Students calculate how long it would take to count to 6,000,000.
Answer: seventy days – without sleeping.
A teacher tells those students 6,000,000 Jews were murdered by Nazis.
A teacher in Nazi Germany is executed for sheltering Jews.
A teacher in Texas is fired for teaching about the teacher who is executed for sheltering Jews.
Hope is not the conviction that something
will turn out well but the certainty that
something makes sense, regardless of how
it turns out.
There is a moment right before
the candle flicks out, when its charred wick
pokes though a flush of blue plasma—
where instead of a fading flame,
I see the remains of a dying star,
one that will soon engulf its planets,
transform them into splinters of wax
and send them forth in sputters.
I see, on those little cinders,
the smallest of men, debating dogma,
berating their fellow orb dwellers, right till the end.
And then the flame is gone.
I look to the next candle in line,
still alive with yellow glow and hope
that something will again make sense.
Dick Westheimer has—with his wife and writing companion Debbie—lived on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio for over forty years. His most recent poems have appeared or are upcoming in Rattle, Paterson Review, Whale Road Review, Gyroscope Review, Northern Appalachia Review, and Cutthroat. His chapbook, A Sword in Both Hands, a collection of poems prompted by Russia’s War on Ukraine, is forthcoming from Sheila Na Gig Books in late 2022. More can be found at dickwestheimer.com.