Ken Rosenstein

In Memoriam: Primo Levi
For Mo

Do you remember the night –
(perhaps there were stars twinkling)
you and I – listened to a reading
of a new translation of poems penned
by the Turin chemist
We sat in a semi-circle in the small
space that serves as a bookstore
housing tomes now turned to pulp perhaps
as those were converted to ash in another time, another place.
We listened into the night until the end –
when I had to ask – and so looking into
her eyes entreated: Do you think it was
an accident or did he really commit . . .
She paused, looking into my eyes – eternity
suspended in the night sky just beyond –
I believe it was intentional – or words to that effect –
words that I knew would be spoken – but you see –
I HAD to ask – to have my suspicions confirmed
doubt sealed shut like a coffin.
We left you and I –
perhaps gazing above
as the stars twinkling in the sky.

In another time
we would have worn
stars “protecting” our breasts
mine a purple (not a pink) triangle
bisected by a yellow one supported by a cloth one
sewn in for good measure
there would have been no
moments of reprieve for us in the end there were none
for him whose re-awakening only brought the sleep of death.
You and I – we live in this time, in this place and so we hear
or read the words produced by the alchemy of imagination and
neuro-transmitters/eye-hand co-ordination and culture
commerce and curiosity
words given life on the mute page
vocalized vibrating vivified reverberating in the
small space on Newbury St.
the word written in the language of Dante –
(twisted in the mouth of Mussolini into a
perverted hexagonal cross) –
transmuted into talisman of truth that we
wear on our hearts
hearts that beat
as those stars in the night sky.