Ross: Children of the Ghetto

By George Szirtes b. 1948 George Szirtes
Love, we were young once, and ran races
over rough ground in our best shiny shoes,
we kicked at stones, we fell over, pulled faces.

Our knees were filthy with our secret places,
with rituals and ranks, with strategy and ruse.
Love, we were young once and ran races

to determine the most rudimentary of  graces
such as strength and speed and the ability to bruise.
We kicked at stones, we fell over, pulled faces,

and doing so left no permanent traces
because we fought and fell only to confuse
love. We were young. Once we ran races

in ghettos, in camps, in the dismal spaces
of  the imagination reserved for  Jews.
We kicked at stones, we fell over, pulled faces

at elastic braces, shoelaces, empty packing cases
as if  they were the expressions we could choose.
Love, we were young once, and ran races.
We kicked at stones, we fell over, we pulled faces.

Source: Poetry (February 2008).

RELATED CONTENT

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet George Szirtes b. 1948

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Living, Youth, Relationships, Men & Women, Religion, Judaism