I saw a Hero yesterday, from more than half a century away
Bent low he was, above his soup.
Cabbage, carrot, and beet root.
Steam and black bread helped him drift
Away; Back to a very foreign soup, and day.
That foreign soup beyond the veil of time
Was served clear and thin, no challah, no red wine.
Surrounded by the gray green foe. In a dark
Cold forest long ago, soup was ladled from
An ammunition can into a dented rusting pan.
Sitting hard against an Eastern European tree.
Boot heel dug deep into the rich hard mud.
A pan of pale soup balanced on the knee,
A snare of piano string. A Mauser, for one’s serviette,
Party favor for would be gray green kings. That is proper etiquette!
Early mornings, off he went to be
An uninvited guest at a gray green luncheonette.
That soup is thick, rich, and served blood red!
Justice ladled full, sharp, cold,
shock to a most evil gray green foe.
But sadly, he carried away a fallen friend.
No Rabbi to say a prayer, No wine for a blessing to fill the air.
Just a shallow grave.
Closed a comrade’s eyes, kissed his forehead, and cried.
Another Jewish partisan has died.
A gentle silver face brings a hero back
Through the mind of time to a much safer place.
Soft hand upon his hand. Home old man.
Arm in arm, she and he.
Off they go speaking low of soup and bread and days passing glow.
I saw a hero yesterday, from more than half a century away.
-- GH Tepper