Friday evening in an attic, cooing.
You flicker at the moonshine in a Siddur. 
The points of your yellow patch are praying,
Like human limbs, they flicker and endure.
The pupils of your eyes drip with moon.
Mama-drops illuminate my faith with love.
Your prayer brings to me the smell of warm challah, 
With fervent prayer you feed the doves.
In each of your wrinkles my life is concealed.
I hear you cough. You tremble, trying
To hide it, lest anyone hear — for there in a corner,
Covered with earth, my bones are lying.
Your hand on my forehead is dozing: be calm,
Just a day or two, salvation — is near.
Your other hand on my ear is resting:
The voice of the murder I must not hear.
You won't fool me: I know you are dead.
Though you live in my dream. Why do they char
Your heart, three roses in scarlet red?
Don't cover up.
I know who they are!
Don't cover up, Mama, you can't fool your child!
How can they bloom here, three roses unheard?
I see three bullets, purple and wild:
The first, the second, the third.
Bring on the cymbals,
Bring joy to a laughter, mute the scream of a crow.
They chased my naked Mama,
Her body a ray in the mirrors of snow.
And she, as to redemption,
Runs somewhere, faster, fast.
And through her frozen tear, where the sun glows
Imprisoned forever, she sees me at last.
And amid her confession
She sends a blessing to her son.
The rifles pound.
She falls like a dove on the throne of the sun.
Where was I,
When cymbals crashed
And they dragged you to the scaffold?
— in a dog's kennel; I buried my bones,
With a dog's joy that curses itself,
On lips — a leech,
In ear — a spider,
I peeped through a crack to see:
Under the moon — mirror to the night,
The wind plays with pearls of snow.
Against the moon —
Whence such splendor?
Each tiny pearl
Of snow played
With its own shadow and the image
Gave me such pleasure
That I burst into barking— — —
For me, in the night, three bullets shine.
I run, from shadows dark to set them loose.
I reach a yellow gate with watching sign:
"Achtung! Plague. Off limits to non-Jews!"
With my teeth, I bite through the stone
In light of slivered eyewhite panes, I falter:
The houses — with no souls. I am alone.
The streets — a burnt-out altar.
And I fear to watch your window pane.
Breathing with your dying, every stair.
With my mouth, I seek your smallest grain
Of dust. I feel you in each tremor of the air.
I drop to a threshold of stone, gray-white:
— Mama, here I am, I'm returning!
And the bullets, painful and bright,
In the turmoil of my conscience, burning.
I seek the dear four walls
Where you once breathed.
The stairs dizzying under me
Like a whirlpool moiling.
I touch the doorknob and tug
The door to your life,
It seems: A little bird cries
In the cage of my fingers.
I walk into the hollow room
Where your dream darkens —
Barely flickering, the oil lamp
You have lit.
On the table, a glass of tea
You didn't sip to the end,
Fingers still throbbing
On its silver rim.
Begging for mercy, the tongue of light
In the flickering lamp —
I pour into the lamp my blood
So it won't stop shining.
Instead of you, I find a coat of many colors.
I press it to my heart, bashful and raw.
The holes of your shirt become my days
And the seam of your shirt in my heart like a saw.
I rip the clothes off my body and creep
Into your naked shirt as into myself.
No longer a shirt — your shining skin,
Your cold, your everlasting death.
You are talking to me
So palpably bright:
— Don't, my child,
It's a sin, it's a sin!
This is our parting —
Accept it as right.
If you are still here,
Then I exist too,
As the pit in a plum
Bears in it the tree
And the nest and the bird
And the chirp and the coo.
Vilna Ghetto, October 1942