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THE GHETTO

We came here more than twenty five years ago

but know when we reach the Trei Archi bridge

we have gone too far and turn. (Distracted by

a young black man begging with a baseball cap

we had walked passed the sottoporto

where the curfew gates had been). We see

a man in a keppel show the entrance

to his children. Inside the Old Ghetto now

are information points, and a café

and a restaurant with kosher options.

In the New Ghetto’s spacious campo

are more eateries, and an accordionist

panhandling alfresco customers.

Stone benches have been placed, shade trees planted.

A patrol of three armed soldiers passes.

 

There is a generic memorial

to the Holocaust, and one to the transports

from the ghetto, the last including the sick

and the dying. Though the Doge et al

chose to believe Jews were as one there were

many languages and five synagogues

– three Ashkenazi, two Sephardi.

All waterways led to Venice, all winds

were fortunate for this cosmopolis.

Distant cousins of mine might have crossed

these pavings, disappeared into the fire.

 

A waitress blows a kiss to one of the soldiers,

the youngest, as they patrol again.

I think of the Prague Ghetto, its graveyard,

its leaning grave markers dotted with small stones.

Though we are never far from the sea

there are no pebbles here.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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