Richard Widerkehr

Kristallnacht, 1938:  Night of Shattered Glass

Kristallnacht by Charlotte Salomon

Even when the sun stops shining, and no one
is left to say Kaddish for the man who hid his poem
in that cellar wall in Berlin, we who were not there
do not forget his night where souls assemble,
unashamed, and when the night cannot forget—
I believe in God, he said, even when God
is silentlet his scrawl in that cellar not lie
on some beach, a dank anonymous scroll;
as strike showers come, low waves seething,
let them come, we say; let breath, paper,
black rain, chimneys, Auschwitz; white rain,
Majdanek; let them slice down once, twice,
Belsen, and so on; only then, after stillborn stars
have stopped shining, let night rest; then let it rest.


About the writer:
Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in Rattle, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, Atlanta Review, Arts & Letters, and others. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. His latest book is In The Presence Of Absence (MoonPath Press). Widerkehr also has three chapbooks and one novel, Sedimental Journey (Tarragon Books). He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Image: Kristallnacht by Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943). From Leben? oder Theater? Ein singspiel. Gouache on paper. 25 x 32.5 cm. Between 1940 and 1942. Public domain.