The weight of mourning defies precise measurement,
and all of the rules of mathematics fail in an attempt.
Grief rejects being placed on scales, there is never
a moment of pure equilibrium, only a teetering
that always threatens to bring it all down in a heap.
A million who are nameless and faceless is an agony
and yet eighty thousand with names on white walls
of the ancient synagogue in Prague seem
to weigh as heavy or heavier on the heart,
and the youngest of those taken are the heaviest
a burden almost too great to bear,
no lighter for our freely flowing tears.
And yet a woman, nameless, faceless
and dead a dozen years, who I knew as my mother
but nothing more, save odd facts that insured
it would be all I would ever know, that woman
was a crushing burden, but one I had to bear alone
and did, if barely, until the moment
when by twist of fate and DNA, she had a name
and soon thereafter a face, and as I stared at her,
as I stared, too, at the mirror, the hole she left,
that emptiness grew vast and heavy, and I
must now struggle not to collapse beneath it.
First appeared in Peacock Journal, February 2017