This poem believes in remembering every Liviu, Tadeusz, Primo,
Jean, Ellie, Charlotte, Fania, Magda, Hannelore,
Every expression of every face,
Every gesture and word
They spoke or couldn’t speak yet, or never got to speak.
This poem apologizes that it cannot recite six million names,
Or the thirty-two names of those whose deaths have scarred
The sixteenth day of April in this year.
This poem knows that it should promise we remember,
Remember to remember,
That we remember some of the time, at least,
Even without quite remembering what it is we should remember—
One aging survivor of genocide, Liviu Lebrescu, sacrificing
Himself to save the young he taught from massacre,
As we should remember one tiny shoe in a glass case in a room
Walled and ceilinged with night-sky black and stars, stars, stars at Yad Vashem,
Recall the child who wore the shoe, from whom the shoe was taken,
Should remember the other infants, toddlers, students all
Savaged from their lives. Should recall the hands that turned
The cranks that spat the gas that
Shut the lungs that sobbed or screamed or hiccupped fear.
Sixty-one years between Liviu Librescu’s survival and his death:
This poem believes in Librescu’s memory on that day, of everything
He needed to remember.
This poem believes in the mitzvah of memory and the dharma of memory,
The prayer of memory. This poem believes that you, Reader, have
Come to this page to read it
On this day, in this hour,
So that, in these moments, and some beyond,
You may remember this work, remember doing at least this work,
And stand, remembering Liviu Librescu’s name and life.