Origin Stories – Sharon Scholl

Origin Stories
    by Sharon Scholl

    One by one we can take them in —
    those names that once were flesh
    and lived among us.

    Neighbors  disowned
    when they were politically inconvenient.

    People in the prison camps disavowed
    even when we smelled their corpses.

    One by one, their memories, insistent,
    take their former places in our homes.
    Their names intrude beneath our feet.

    Later generations can’t evade
    acknowledgement of ancestral guilt
    when we meet them name by name,
    feel their claim upon this space,
    the life taken from them.

            *“Stumbling stones” – sidewalk plaques
            with names and dates of Jewish victims
            of the Holocaust who once lived on site.

Origin Stories – Stolperstein

People in my area of Florida are remarkably resistant to removing Confederate monuments that honor defenders of slavery and leaders of a treasonous war.  They wave Confederate flags and otherwise display their loyalty to ancient horrors.  Those of us who pressure city leaders for removal of these emblems of dishonor sometimes wonder what we could use as monuments of regret instead.  So I was especially interested in a long photo essay in my Atlantic Magazine about what Germans did to demonstrate sorrow for their Nazi past and to honor those whose lives were stolen by hatred.  At least in Berlin, they have inserted stones engraved with the names of Jews who lived at that location before being transported to death camps. The names and dates are right there where they must be seen and walked by daily, without evasion or excuse.  They are called Stoplerstine, literally stumbling stones, because they are intended to be “in the way”.  This impressed me as a sincere expression of regret and confirmation of our common humanity, which inspired me to write a poem about them.

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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Origin Stories