Gina Roitman

Photo Finish

static earnest sepia faces
trapped on dog-eared paper
strange landscapes drained of colour
each photo a story
a picture book for a small child alone with her mother

me and my mother
she is feeding me stories
piece by piece
photo by photo
stories mixed with sobs
told in fierce whispers
gagging words stuck in the throat

I feel the spoon clank against clamped milk teeth

is this my zaideh where is my zaideh

silence lives in the eyes of these strangers
more tragic than any imprisoned princess
threatened by a fire breathing dragon
my whole family in cinders and inhaled
before the dragon was slain
before I was born

but after the photos
here I am

Gina Roitman is the author of the critically-acclaimed short story collection,
Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth, about the struggles of growing up against a
backdrop of the Holocaust. Born to Holocaust survivors, Gina is the co-producer and subject of the documentary, My Mother, the Nazi Midwife, and Me. Ash in My Hair, a radio documentary has aired annually since it first ran in 2005 on CBC. Her writing has been published in The Globe and Mail, Montreal Review of Books, Quills, roverarts.com and carte-blanche.org.

These poems are published here with permission of the author.