A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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Six Memoir Poems by Eva Eliav


in April 1948

we crossed the ocean

on a ship called the Stefan Batori


I was three

my brother almost two


my mother’s sister

received a call

from a pleasant stranger


telling her we’d survived

we were on our way


she crashed to the floor

like a tree


and my uncle wept


when our train arrived in Warsaw


my father left my mother



two small children heavy

in her arms


and made a desperate run

for the city center

to buy with the last of our money

cakes he remembered

from childhood


arriving back

breathless and triumphant

moments before the train

set out for Danzig


my mother cried

because we had no milk


my mother's sister

had a rambling house


the second floor

was ours


worn green linoleum

in the hall


kitchen just large enough

for a square wooden table

and an icebox


steaming blocks of ice

were lugged upstairs

by men in overalls


our bedroom held

a double bed

a single

and a crib


the walls were bare


except for a purple snowflake

I'd made at school

and begged my mother

to hang above my cot


one day we moved

into a home

that was our own


red brick duplex

with a wooden porch


a back garden

with a lilac bush


fragrant sweet pea

curled around the fence


my parents had a bedroom

to themselves


we took in boarders


Mrs. Thompson

taught me Lexicon


Audrey an artist

was banished by my mother

because she welcomed boyfriends

to her room


one glorious afternoon

I hurried home from school

and there was Susie


lapping milk from a dish

on the kitchen floor


a festive pink ribbon

round her throat


my uncle visited


a blue-eyed man

who always brought a gift

of chocolate kisses


he had a number

etched into his arm


worked long hours

selling snacks on trains


complained bitterly

about his life


we prospered


my father bought a car

a blue leviathan

gleaming with chrome


my mother wore pretty clothes

and lunched with friends


neighborhood children

pelted us with stones

and called us dirty Jews


but we were safe


and in a sense

we prospered

Eva Eliav

Eva Eliav, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, grew up in Canada, and now lives in Israel. She received an honour BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Toronto and completed her studies towards an MA in English and American Literature at the University of Tel Aviv. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in numerous literary journals, both online and in print. She has published two poetry chapbooks: Eve (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2019) and One Summer Day (Kelsay Books, 2021).


Eva Eliav
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