Her music seems to understand
that it is the simplest of C major progressions
which can show us the valley beyond the bridge,
that songs without medicine might soothe if not heal,
that only old-fashioned tonality might unlock
the gates of Theresienstadt,
that farewells are best phrased like blown kisses,
concise gestures from railway cattle-trucks,
that it is the womb-rocking of Wiegenlieder
returning us to long-forgotten sleep
that is most needed when children are praying
beneath pesticide showers.
Poet's note: Ilse Weber (1903-44) was a Jewish poet, children’s writer, broadcaster, producer and musician. Along with her husband and second son, she was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942, where she nursed sick Jewish children in the infirmary, and continued writing songs and poems. Eventually, she was voluntarily deported with many of her patients to Auschwitz, where she, her son and the children were gassed on arrival.
Jonathan Taylor's books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), the memoir Take Me Home: Parkinson's, My Father, Myself (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester in the UK. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.
The Ekphrastic Review
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