The Children Next Door, 1939
When my grandmother was young
in Poland, she lived beside
a ramshackle house with many mouths
and not much money. Skinny children
cried in the yard. Bubbe would climb
over the fence with rolls and butter.
Then the Nazis came to Poland
and the children next door
threw stones and slurs.
Recalling the broken glass
on her bedroom carpet,
Bubbe still doesn’t wonder why
she brought ungrateful neighbors bread—
only why they threw rocks in return.
Why so many homes became targets
and so few havens emerged.
Why so many mouths
turned hunger for bread
into thirst for blood.
By Jacqueline Jules
Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including The Broome Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers. Visit www.jacquelinejules.com.