The Boat of Refuge


22 February 2017

I was eleven
when first I saw the number
tattooed on Marie’s wrist,
by the Beast 666.
What numerals made up the number,
I do not know.  I do know

Marie was a fawn
the hyenas had cornered,
the high incessant screaming
of hyenas driving her
into isolation,
their bloody maws drooling
with the gore of their many victims.
Hyenas hunger ever more.

Small-to-tiny, Polish,
Marie had survived the war,
and, come a refugee, found place
in Iowa, the Iowa of my boyhood,
Ike’s Iowa, Fifties Iowa
where she wore her scar of numerals
666 had factored into her being.

To my schoolboy’s eyes it meant homework in math,
which I was never clever at.
Yet, I figured the one of her
had negated the legion 666,
negated them by her continuing
to be a flesh and blood
memory of their deeds.

May this poem clothe her
in a never dying skin.

Philip Kuepper
(16 February 2017)

One comment

  1. My Radley grandmother was Maude Issacs. Her grandfather had married out of the Jewish religion. Maudes mum was of Huguenot background. I wonder what the NAZIs would have said about the RADLEYS with our Issacs heritage

    Death camps?

    So the poem re boat of refuge on HTBS strikes a chord with me Phillip besides being a great poet is also obviously a sensitive caring person.

    Cheers Clive


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