In memory of a fallen soldier.
by Layah, Creative Director

Elijah: “I will speak that I will find relief.”

“For there is a redemptive quality for an agitated mind in the spoken word, and a tormented soul find piece in confessing.” -Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

*  *  *

I had been eyeing a journal in a small Jerusalem shop for months. One day, I was in desperate need of paper. The above is written on the first page. The poem below is written on the next.

*  *  *

For a Father:

No longer can I repress

these lingering feelings I possess;

their potency causes me to confess

A man, a husband, a father

now the owner of our sympathies

from you I seek forgiveness

to you I send sincere apologies

For I intruded upon your soul today

and to this moment I shy away

for your eyes spoke words you’ll never say

Preceding that one small moment

I never knew such heartache

step by step you passed before me

but this ache, I cannot shake

So young

your son

so young

The soldiers aligned

you followed behind

and time began to unwind

You shared with us your memories

spoke to us about the past

I closed my eyes and listened,

willing the moment to last

An augmenting passion

a desire to contribute

led him to his decision

upon which he was resolute

So young

your son

so young

chayal (soldier) now endowed

you told him you were proud

these thoughts you shared aloud

The youngest…yet tallest

now donned a uniform and gun

as well as a contagious smile

beloved friend, brother, and son

A tragedy sears

a flowing of tears

a mere nineteen years

Three shots pierced my reverie

perhaps if pain had a sound –

The crowd began to part; I stood transfixed –

a mound of fresh dirt upon the ground

So young

your son

so young

Part of me wanted to shout

that he was taken prematurely

but henceforth is presented

a paradoxical duality:

For in His Oneness and Totality

G-d knows only punctuality,

birthing a scar to my punctured reality.

I didn’t know him well

but when I saw you I knew

his face was the face of his father;

he looked just like you

Within feelings so queasy

heavy breathing becomes wheezy;

I wish a wounded heart could heal so easy

So young

your son

so young

May his neshama (soul) have an aliyah (ascension)

may your pain come to cease

may you find in these words comfort

and through your mourning come to peace

If you could

I know you would

make a few words plainly understood:

So proud

of your son

so proud

So loved

is your son

so loved



  1. EstherGutkovsky says:

    I’m sorry to keep commenting on your posts, Layah…I remember this poem.
    I remember sitting and waiting in a crowded place, waiting for an interview, and you called me and read this to me and we both were shamelessly crying, openly and heart-wrenching once again. I still miss him, even though I barely knew him. Maybe because God allowed me to share a small happy moment the day before it happened.
    Your poem still makes me cry. But I like to think they’re peaceful tears, for a soldier who is resting in peace, for someone whose wit and smile still makes us return one, albeit rueful and sometimes sad.
    Thank you for posting this.

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LANDFILLS is a grassroots literary, arts and culture online collective based in Chicago. All work is original, except the featured images that accompany text posts (which are blatantly stolen from tumblr.com). Complaints should be directed to Po via Twitter.
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