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Yom Kippur

Sixty years ago as schoolboys we measured the day

in fantasies of food and drink,

in miles between neighborhood synagogues

to hear a shofar blown again, a different cantor sing

sweet as Koussevitzky, while gentile traffic

hummed by bordering the crow-flown

fields and pathways that we chose to walk


There as the day hungered down to dusk

sitting on our stoep, waiting for three stars

sixty years, six thousand dreams,

six million memories flown by


Who could have dreamed we’d celebrate

this day with pages from a prayer book

trampled by army boots that surged across

the Suez canal — of a handful against an

invading horde, of courage, dreadful losses

bone and sinew straining to recapture

what we’d lost


Sixty years and silence shrouds

the empty streets, blessed silence broken

only by the sound of crows,

the freedom of children, released this day

free from hunger, memories and wars


a crowd of spinning bicycles!

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© Johnmichael Simon



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