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Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Ghosts In The Paintings

My friend's paintings haunt me
The Ghosts of the past alive on canvas
Haunted hands painted them
Guided by restless spirits
Burning memories

She has faded to a shadow
Of who she was
Carrying around myriad shades
Haunted and in tears
Happy and reaching ancient years
Echos of demolished homes
And once stately and ancient synagogues

Her brushes are haunted with my family
Rachel cries for her children
Her little sister just cries
Restless ghosts who left clothes behind
But little else
Except reminders of the mindless hate
That caused most of them
To be banished to images in paint.

The painter,
Gracious and kind
Was a friend of mine
The Ghosts that haunted her
Talk to me through her memory
I see them, hear them,
Experience the cold

In visions and dreams
If these are children of God
Why did He make them scream.
She found peace at last
In an unmarked grave
next to her husband.

I'd love to romanticize them
But their echoes are fading
The innocent sleep next to the monsters
In jumbled burnt bones.

The rapists sleep
with the people they raped.
The murdered with their murderers
In uneasy slumbering dirt.

And we their children go on.
Shell shocked and damaged.
Consequences echoing loud
Til the day when mercy
and forgiveness should redeem them.

What is justice but revenge?
If no one learns a damned thing?
How do we hallow the ground
Where so much blood was spilled
Needlessly.

My friend she faded.
Her last days in peace.
She gave peace to my wife
And we shared
blessed moments together.

Maybe our children
can hallow the ground
We so wickedly profaned.
Maybe our grandchildren will finally learn
Why their grandparents
Carried silently so much shame.

She still talks to me
through those paintings
Along with departed loved ones.
They say "forgive them"
"They know not what they do."
"For they are children
Not given a chance to learn
Before the fires of hatred & fear
Burn them."

I cannot save them.
But Universe places them in time.
Justice may not have redeemed them.
But none of them committed a crime
Before being sacrificed on a profane altar
By the folly of the angry and blind.

They don't need to be redeemed
But we the living do.

Christopher H. Holte
From a poem I wrote 10 years ago
Updated and digitized may 4 2017

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