Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bubby’s Kristallnacht Cup

Bubby’s Kristallnacht Cup*
Bubby had a glass tea cup
that she would take down
from its high shelf once in
a very long while and hold
to the golden light at sunset
Sparkling crystal only one
with a saucer so thin it felt
weightless in my small hand
that crisp November evening
when she called to me and
her special voice warm with
a faraway language waved
me to her side – and tears
shining in her eyes showed
me how to hold the cup so
it caught all the light shining
we stood silently side by side
at her window – I a small child
with trembling heart holding
her single secreted souvenier
Until with hair shimmering
silver she straightened her
shoulders and with a proud
tremble in her voice began –
“Let me tell you “kinder” of a night
when they came to break the glass..”
Years tumbled as they will and one
day clearing out her things I found
on the self same shelf her tea cup
and reached on tiptoe my belly big
with child -and listened as it slipped
– a small smash – a tiny shatter – and
as I began to cry – cleaning sparkling
slivers – I saw a fragment Woolworth
label and realized that nothing had
survived that time except the love,
the knowledge and the legacy, to be
retold so as she would say
“it should never be forgotten”
I locked her door and at Tiffany’s
I found a fluted cup of cut crystal
Only one? the saleswoman asked
One will be enough
I answered – One will be enough …
Unwrapped it on a high bookshelf
where it catches the light and waits
to tell its story to the child that will
bear her name


*written in honor of Kristallnacht Memorial 11/9-11/10
this poem is not autobiographical although I feel deeply
that, but for some toss of the dice, it could have been...


  1. This is one of the strongest poems I have read.. There were so much more than glasses broken those days.. I think a legacy of a single glass is a very good reminder.. I have a big lump in my throat reading this.. And it feels good.

  2. Awww Bjorn - I am humbled by such high praise. I deeply appreciate your comment.

  3. I agree with Bjorn....a strong poem. You have brought the scene to life, made us feel...and hear the shattering of glass. We must never forget.

  4. you've amazingly captivated "Night of Broken Glass" and the sadness associated with it..but the promise at the end is full of light..

  5. Tears here. Yes. Powerful and true. Excellent the pace and tone and weave of time unwoven and redone. One cup will be enough. Thank you.

  6. Such a beautiful story, Pearl. Such a wonderful Bubby! I am thinking of you, the news is full of the snow and the flooding. I hope you are all right.

  7. What a powerful way to remember such a horrible time. I was on edge when it broke, well written.

  8. Aww... a remembrance of a not-so-happy memory. The poem swirls and put a dagger into my heart.

  9. Even as a youngster in England I knew about "Kristallnacht" which occurred in Germany in 1938 before I was born when Jewish shops and synagogues were destroyed. Sadly such fanaticism still occurs as we witness today.

  10. Wow, this has so much emotional weight. Such a strong incredible write.

  11. Very moving... Brilliantly written!