Friday, August 28, 2015

"There Is More Than One Way to Starve." - Sherman Alexie

Earlier this year I visited Dachau Memorial Site, just outside Munich, Germany.

Earlier this month we watched again (with son) Schindler's List.

Earlier this week I read to my son "An Indian Education" by Sherman Alexie, which is a brilliant piece and contains the sentence in the subject line.)

Yesterday I finished listening to THE OLD BROWN SUITCASE by Lilian Boraks-Nemetz, narrated by Sofia Newman (thank you, SYNC free summer audiobooks program!)

Which brings me to today, Poetry Friday. Please visit globe-trotting Sylvia at Poetry for Children for Roundup!

My offering is Part 6 of Alexie's 7-part poem "Inside Dachau" It's powerful in its straightforward simplicity, and it's helping me to find my own words as I attempt to write about how I, a white 21st century American woman, relate to to these (and other) holocausts.

6. after we are free

If I were Jewish, how would I mourn the dead?

I am Spokane. I wake.

If I were Jewish, how would I remember the past?

I am Spokane. I page through the history books.

If I were Jewish, how would I find the joy to dance?

I am Spokane. I drop a quarter into the jukebox.

If I were Jewish, how would I find time to sing?

I am Spokane. I sit at the drum with all of my cousins.

If I were Jewish, how would I fall in love?

I am Spokane. I listen to an Indian woma
n whispering.

If I were Jewish, how would I feel about ash?

I am Spokane. I offer tobacco to all of my guests.

If I were Jewish, how would I tell the stories? 

I am Spokane. I rest my hands on the podium.

If I were Jewish, how would I sleep at night?

I am Spokane. I keep the television playing until dawn.

If I were Jewish, how would I find my home?

I am Spokane. I step into the river and close my eyes.


  1. Wow. I imagine you're having a pretty heavy-duty summer immersing yourself in this kind of research. Your poem speaks from the heart. That's the only way.

    My mother-in-law was a holocaust survivor and wrote her own (unpublished) autobiography. It's an amazing thing to read... and fairly unimaginable to contemplate.

    1. Wow, Michelle, what a gift from your mother-in-law. We MUST tell our stories, however difficult. Please tell her I honor and respect her for having the courage to record her story. xo

  2. Heavy-duty is right, Michelle. Not surprisingly, all the heartache and pain is a result of man's inhumanity. Is it just fools like us who believe that peace, equality, and justice are possible?

    1. Here's to a world full of fools like us! Thanks for stopping by, Diane. xo

  3. I've been to Dachau, and all along the way since, I try to give some honor to those who died there, by learning more as you are, Irene, and by teaching my students about that time, hoping they too will remember and pass it on. I know the Alexie piece, but not The Old Brown Suitcase. Thank you.

  4. It's so important and hard to bear witness to humanity's failings. Thank you for doing that, and for sharing "Inside Dachau."

  5. I'll second your (and Diane's) toast to a world full of fools!


Your thoughts?