We come through one gasping for air
and leave by another gasping for air.
Most of our time on earth is spent
crossing them. After fifty-eight years
I think they may be my home.
On this trip, I walk from night
into day, from home into car
from car into plane, from
plane into the old world.
In Prague there are nets over
the heads of statues. No one
knows why. Perhaps to keep
them from coming alive. Perhaps
tearing the nets from our faces
is another threshold.
It rains slowly here, not heavily
as if the God of Eastern Europe
is remembering how to cry.
Along the way none of this
seemed to go together. But
the heart is a loom whose
weave is experience.
The last day I walk from
the hotel into a van, from the
van into a camp, from the camp
into a crematorium and stand
at the ash end of four ovens
holding a mezuzah.
The prayers inside speak of
curses and blessings and jealous
gods. That’s not why I hold it. I hold
it because life is a constant crossing
and we need to carry what we know
in something that won’t burn.