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I Am

A poem in memory of Israel’s fallen soldiers. 

I am the valuing of values over material valuables
Thousands and thousands of years of oppression
I am a mother teaching her enemies a lesson by teaching her babies to walk tall
To walk unflinchingly forward
To walk within the confines of a world that hates what it cannot understand
I am the inexplicable
The intersection of the tangible and the intangible
The richest sustenance this existence has to offer cannot be
Bought,
Broken,
Burnt,
Cannot boxed into cattle cars,
Shoved into showers,
I am the victims of the gas and the blood libels
The unbridled, undignified, unimaginable grief
I am a mother crying over an empty bed,
A green uniform dyed red,
I am survival riddles with the scars of silence
The silence of the Egyptians who watched us beaten as we bled,
The same silence Nazi Germany bred,
The same silence that was printed in the newspapers America read in 1940,
The silence in those newspapers today
I am Gilad Shalit’s sister’s pain every hour he was gone
Every hug goodbye she replayed trying to keep him human while her heart hardened and her memory blurred
I am her face the day he came home
I am hope, I am heritage
I am the nieces and nephews that will never meet their uncles
The missing faces in our family pictures
The empty chairs at our dining room tables
I am our nightmares of door knocks at midnight coming to tell you he isn’t coming back
The layers of dust collecting over the covers in his bedroom waiting for a soldier who only lives in the gaps he left behind
I am his laughter — louder in its absence than it ever was in life
The armies of families as brave and proud as the boys they said goodbye to
I am the values they valued over material valuables
The richest sustenance for which they gave up this existence
The love they loved over life
I am sacrifice
I am the future
I am the past
I
Am
You

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