Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Washington, D.C.

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National Holocaust Museum:
white rooms, somber people
yet my son, nine months,
could not stop laughing
this long and terrible laugh.
We carried cards with the name
of one who had perished
and still, the laugh, as if
the whole idea of the Holocaust
were a stitch and we hurried
past the pile of empty shoes
with their crippled leather,
the horrific pictures
of children, floor by floor,
the experiments on twins,
it was through this he laughed
until, independently, we each
considered slapping him.

Instead we left.
We did not hurt him,
nine months, unable to walk.
But in that moment we
wanted him to suffer
for his improbable joy
and our embarrassment,
what were we thinking
bringing him here,
new parents. We wanted
to cry. We wanted
tears from him.


Karen Skolfield’s poems have most recently appeared online in The Adirondack Review, Apple Valley Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, Barnwood Poetry, Conte, and PANK. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two kids and teaches travel writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she is a contributing editor at the literary magazine Bateau.


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Really nice poem. I like the juxtaposition and how it forces us to look back at those events and confront the many contrasts.
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