Such fierce demands for naive belief

Such Fierce Demands for Naïve Belief  —  On Singing Holocaust Era Songs for a 21st century Audience                     

                           by Jane Enkin December 2016

Such fierce demands for naïve belief”              page 225, 9 ½ Mystics by Herbert Weiner

Such fierce

demands for naïve

belief

are not uncommon

We make fierce demands

of our lovers

our children

our students

our audiences

Come with me now

to a ghetto cabaret in Poland in 1943

Believe that I am

starving

and harried

And that I am

dark and exquisite

Hunger has made

my cheeks delicate branches

my eyes hidden lakes

my hands the little fish

you cannot catch

Catch these layers

Believe you must give your buzzing mind

Over to me

in stillness

Believe that we together

are in Poland, in 1943

Believe I am

that singer

in that cabaret

I am dark,

but I am lovely

Now

Believe in the woman

the singer creates for you

Even more hungry,

more lost

Could such despair

be offered in song?

Offered

as the imagined woman’s grandmother

heard despair

soaring

in the hazzan’s penance offered in synagogue

for the community of sinners

Offered

as the grandmother

murmured in

the darkest lullabies ever set to soothing tunes

offered

as her quiet irony

Believe in

me

Believe in

the singer in 1943

Believe in

the character she creates in the song

Now, one more demand

Believe

that each thought comes to me fresh

each breath

each shattering

crumbling

collapsing

gathering of strength

Believe that each

moment of the song

arises

for the first time

at the moment we share it

This is the fierce

naïve belief

I demand of you,

my audience

This is the naiveté I offer

 

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