The Young Students Poem by Elisha Porat

The Young Students
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“The young dead soldiers do not speak.

Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night when the clock counts.”
— Archibald MacLeish.

On the morning of Memorial Day I walk into the class.
“The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard . . . ”
I read to my young students;
My voice echoes in the silent space of the class.
Their eyes are fastened to my lips,
Fear beats upon my face:

I’m the one who knows,
I’m the one who remembers;
I bite my lip, and begin to cry.

Abruptly I flee from the classroom,
As the eyes of my young students
Drill into the silent space in my brain.
Speak to me, dear children,
How I truly need to hear
Your voices now.

Translated from the Hebrew by Elisha Porat and Ward Kelley

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