Jane Schapiro

Enough with Victor Frankl

and his search for meaning.

Can’t we acknowledge survival while

also conceding that sometimes

horror is as mystifying

as beauty.

When we’re standing on a ledge,

leaning over a canyon rim,

enveloped in immensity,

so overwhelmed

we almost succumb—

we don’t ask why

we keep our footing.



What once was a tragedy is now an anecdote

my husband shares: he never knew

his grandfather had a sister

who was beheaded by a train.

He never heard anyone whisper her name,

visit her grave,

never caught a glimpse of pain.

But Yetta appears on his family tree.

He and I are laughing in the kitchen--

how could he have been so unaware,

illiterate to ancestral despair.

People may think it’s cruel to laugh,

after all, a little girl died

while crossing a street, but I find solace

knowing griefs weaken and dull,

erode as generations wash ashore.

Something as shocking as a severed skull,

which surely must have shattered a home,

even that has been whittled to dinner talk

as we speak of Yetta and pass the salt.

Jane Schapiro is the author of the 2020 Nautilus Book Award Winner Warbler (Kelsay Books, 2020), Let The Wind Push Us Across (Antrim House 2017), Tapping This Stone (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 1995) and the nonfiction book Inside a Class Action: The Holocaust and the Swiss Banks (University of Wisconsin, 2003). Mrs. Cave’s House won the 2012 Sow’s Ear Poetry Chapbook competition. Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, Black Warrior Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily.

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