Our Bubbala

On the Chanukah of 1992,

my shviger

gave my bubbala

a little doll

in the shape of the daughter

she lost in 1942.


The doll has

a yellow star

burning a hole

in her heart.

Her eyes

are a dead brown.

Her cotton brain

is full of nothing.

She was stolen

by the piper.




In the early winter

of 1942

her eyes

were a warm cinnamon,

her mind

was full of life and promise,

but she was not physically strong.


She could not

carry the burdens

and match the speed

of the forced-labor seamstressy world.

The spinning

pricked her fingers and spirit

and like sleeping beauty

she was bound to fall.


In what was supposed to be

the dawn years of her life,

the Łódź Ghetto

was hit with a hefty bill.

It was not

“Jewish Wealth”

in gold and silver,

that the Nazis wanted,

it was something dearer,

they wanted life.


My shviger

did not want

to give up

her dearest child.

She hid her deep within the warmth

of her heart and hearth,

but the German piper’s call

was endorsed by Rumkowski

and her bubbala

was taken into

the wild emptiness of death

to never return.




My shviger

dotes on my bubbala

because she reminds her

of her bubbala.

They have

the same hair,



and eyes.


Whenever they are together

she holds her close

and croons songs

and promises

of love and fidelity.

The older my daughter gets

the more I can see her begin to wonder

if this is how her Fayge would look

if she was still alive.


This poem, along with the other poems categorized under the Labkovski Project section, were written for the LAMOTH exhibit on David Labkovski’s life and art.

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