(04/19/2016 for National Poetry Month HitRECord challenge)
The photograph is of a man
baring those teeth still in his head.
It is the picture of a man permanently hunched,
Crippled by the weight
of existing in a place
where he be no man at all
but a Jew, a deviant, a gypsy,
a category for eradication.
The photograph is of a skinny man who will die soon, no doubt.
In the photograph, he is bent,
Holding up the stripped-down body
That journeyed ahead of him into nothingness.
His dreams have reduced to the muted yearning
For someone to remember him when he is gone.
To say his name fondly.
To say, Jakob, he told that funny story,
You know, about the piano tuner and the rabbi's daughter?
He was a humorous man,
Who was kind to animals.
Surely, the blue number on his arm
visible in flashes as he tosses
another body into the pit,
to be buried in lime and forgetfulness,
is the least of his burdens.
The photograph is old.
But, when you hold it in your hand,
Remember him: Jakob,
Who told funny stories,
And was kind to animals.