A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

Six Memoir Poems by Eva Eliav

1

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

2

when our train arrived in Warsaw

 

my father left my mother

terrified

 

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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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