(born Ludwig Pfueffer, May 3, 1924 – September 22, 2000)
Try to remember some details. Remember the clothing
of the one you love
so that on the day of disaster you'll be able to say: last seen
wearing such-and-such, brown jacket, white hat.
Try to remember some details. For they have no face
and their soul is hidden and their crying
is the same as their laughter,
and their silence and their shouting rise to one height
and their body temperature is between 98 and 104 degrees
and they have no life outside this narrow space
and they have no graven image, no likeness, no memory
and they have paper cups on the day of their rejoicing
and disposable paper plates.
Try to remember some details. For the world
is filled with people who were torn from their sleep
with no one to mend the tear,
and unlike wild beasts they live
each in his lonely hiding place and they die
together on battlefields
and in hospitals.
And the earth will swallow all of them,
good and evil together, like the followers of Korah,
all of them in their rebellion against death,
their mouths open till the last moment,
and blessing and cursing in a single
howl. Try, try
to remember some details.
Yehuda Amichai, The Art of Poetry No. 44, Interviewed by Lawrence Joseph (The Paris Review)