William Heyen

Another thick book of testimonies—
I knew I could not remember them all.
It was as though the survivors
were moving past me in a line,
& I were choosing among them:
that way to oblivion, this way
into a poem with my rhythmic baton.
But this spring morning a catbird sang
outside my door while I was reading,

while Rabbi Solomon H. remembered his son,
a nine-year-old who had,
Solomon tells us,
half the book of Psalms by heart.
When he was taken to be slaughtered,
he was saying the Psalms from memory.
Just before being gassed, the boy said,
“I am still going to pray to God.
Maybe at the last moment we will still be saved,”

& I looked up,
&, as catbirds will, this one
kept singing like crazy, its song
losing track of its beginning,
never the melodies of final meanings,
but going on as though nothing
within its own singing
could ever not remember

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