Generations of Guilt

How does he do it?
I asked the page
his words drifting across it
as moving figures on a silent screen

 

And then I see him
his pencil
cranking the handle
of a rusting motion picture projector

While a new immigrant
not understanding the language
works the translation tape
trying to keep up

 

This box I keep
its dusty photographs
daily reshuffling into the front row
where people’s heads don’t disturb your view

 

Shuffling into a kibbutz
on the borders of a war
meat and margarine were rationed
only one pale yellow cube per day
and God forgive me I was so hungry
for meat that I stole a chicken
from the chicken coop but it turned into
a rooster, shouting
as I attempted to slaughter it
its blood spurting on the walls

guilty ever since

 

The people have lost their morals
today they all steal chickens
and deceiving the income tax
is considered the most minor of crimes
punishable by four years hard labor
in the Knesset

 

We keep prison cells in our averted eyes
today in between wars where we brush
bombed children under the carpet
and swing chicken around our heads
on the day before Yom Kippur
praying for absolution

 

But Guilt is wilier than us

he hides in the corner of the album
under a picture of a church
and all our attempts to dislodge him fail

 

And each year after the Day of Atonement
we laugh, relieved that we have been spared
and bend down like naughty children
and show our bottoms to the camera

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© Johnmichael Simon

2011

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