by Jacqueline Jules
A small man in checkered pajamas
sitting on the edge of my bed.
Spotted hands waving in the air,
he would talk on and on
of honey cakes in the shape of Hebrew letters
and a little boy with curls on the side of his head
who studied Talmud
long, long ago in Poland,
where he learned to answer my questions
with another question
and to see a thousand meanings in a single word.
I might have been a rabbi, he told me,
but the Nazis closed the schools.
They took everything from us, he said,
the silverware, the radio, our jewelry, our house,
even fountain pens, the Nazis took.
Except one thing.
He lifted the arm with the tattooed number
and touched the top of his hairless head.
One thing they could not take. He smiled
and tapped his head again.
Knowledge is something no one can steal.