Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, 2010

I once went to a Jewish cemetery

More like a graveyard

So small and unheeded it was

I went there looking for ghosts

It lies in New York City

Somewhere in a corner between brownstones

Surrounded by other ghosts of history

Alive and simmering under the pulse of the present

I felt nothing there

No energy from the past nor pulse from the present

They had gone

The ghosts of the lost and still-forming

Where did they go

I asked I still ask

Do they follow the ones we lost

Back to a past as dark and black as smoke

Or have they risen again

Planting their history in the bodies now reaching for the future

Do they wish to remember or to forget

I neither remember nor forget

Nor do I know if I am only myself

Or them also

I wish those ghosts were there to tell me

Which one was right


©Abigail Siegel, 2020


I was inspired to write this poem not only by my visit to that very cemetery in New York a decade ago, but also, oddly enough, my my current reading of The Deep by Rivers Solomon. This book talks about memory and identity, sharing the past with the present, and making the choice to remember. I wanted to capture those same themes here. I will be reviewing The Deep very soon.


*The cemetery pictured is not the one I visited, but an example of many that exist in New York.

MA in Classics: Latin poetry as well as myth and folklore. Writes mostly poetry and book reviews. Part-time Latin tutor:

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