Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thoughts jotted down on t.p.


We gather here in a sacred place,
a house that belonged to her.
We examine this topic called Holocaust
listening to their tragedies.
Tears fill our eyes.
Pain enters our being.
We feel the attack
through years and space.

She makes us laugh with
her humor as she tells her tale.
The friend for whom she almost gave all.
Did this friend ever say "Thanks"?
Her quiet strength and determination
giving us much to admire.

He tells his tale of adversity
and loss,
but with a little twist.
He begs us to take his place.
Remember him.
Learn to be him.
Become him and others
as time moves on.
We cannot help but feel
the need to step in
and adopt this powerful legacy.

And yet...

We gather here in this sacred place
to honor those who suffered,
still thinking them and us.
Not realizing the comments
being said...
as walls are being torn down,
the stones and sand are simply shifting,
transferring over to newer, smaller walls
just starting to

"They honor God in a strange way,
different from what I know."
And there is laughter.
"They could have prevented the tragedy
of lonely children,
if only they cared."
And there are nods.
"They are ruining this country
with their policies and beliefs."
And there is agreement among us.

The lesson here is that the world consists
of shades of gray,
some dark
some light.
All creating an image of lives.

You honor God a different way than I,
and we share.
You have made mistakes,
and I still see the good you have achieved.
I don't agree with your politics,
and you are free to believe
as you wish.

We should share
what makes us unique
without fear of consequence.
We should honor those differences
and seek common ground.
We should not be us and them.

learned, did we not?
Us and them
leads to hate and death.
Us and them
leads to conflict.
Us and them
leads to pain
and shame
and closed spaces.

Throw out us and them.
Become you and me and us and we.

You may think differently,
but I listen to your reasons and comprehend.
You look different.
Your skin may be a different color.
Your features may be composed of different lines and shapes.
You are beautiful to me.
You live a different life, but
we still share a common bonds,
of family and love
and hope for our children's future.

We can agree to disagree
because I value
all the pieces of you.

And once this is accepted,
us and them
becomes we
and the pain, tragedy, and killing stop,
because we are now one.


Larry Neuburger said...

Ilka, Thnx for posting this. This reminds of a song by Pink Floyd called Us and Them. How true it is that we all basically want the same things. If we all had the capacity to demonstrate and practice tolerance, imagine how peaceful this world would be.

Danielle said...


Your words are beautiful and poignant. I love the phrasing and italics used to emphasize that which is important and necessary to overcome - them and us.

Thanks for your thoughts -

Mr. Maerke said...

Wonderful poem. I was just talking with Jennifer today about how much I dislike the third person plural they. Thanks for sharing. I am jealous of your ability to work with words.

Ilka said...

Thanks for the compliment. I am honored. :)

I used to be pronoun happy in my writing, so now I am very conscious of them in my student's writing.