My Father’s Long Crawl to Freedom

My Father’s Long Crawl to Freedom
The plate hit the floor.
The shit hit the fan.
The blood hit the brain.
The mind hit the wall.
My father hit his end.
My mother hit the phone.
The doctors hit the meds.
Dad hit the roof.

For two and a half years,
Trapped in a mind that
And a body that
Wanted out;
For two and a half years
He raged and screamed,
Shatted and peed,
Fought and struggled;
For two and a half years
He planned his escape,
He dug his tunnel,
He scrapped and clawed,
Heaved and burrowed,
At the relentless, unforgiving, unforgetting,
Confines of his being.

Day after day,
In the dark of the light,
In the light of the dark,
He calculated his fate
Down to the very farthing
On the corner of the torn serviette –
This door and that,
This egress or that.
Follow the signs.
Follow the signs.
Double-doors, doubly barred,
Search tower always searching,
The guards with orders –
“Capture or kill!”
“Capture and kill!”
Centuries upon sentries
Keeping him in,
Tied to his bed
Crippled –
Toeless, feetless,
Legless, mindless,
Straitjacketed while crawling
Down his narrow constraints.

Maybe tonight?
Maybe today?

Wheat field ploughed,
No escape allowed.
Keep digging.
Keep digging.

Until that day,
That selfsame day
That the earth’s mouth was forced open
To receive the blood of my ancestors,
That clear winter morning,
With the light upon the sky,
That longed for day
When freedom beckoned
From the forests beyond –
“Down the hole!
Down the hole!
And never look back.”

Michael Kagan

Michael is a poet and entrepreneur living in Jerusalem. His father died on 18th Kislev (18th December 2016) the very same day as the big massacre that took place in his hometown of Navarodok in 1941, that signified the end of more than 600 hundred years of Jewish life. At the age of 13, he was forced to work in a labour camp. In the awful winter of 1942, he escaped into the forests to join the partisans but had to return after falling into freezing water. As a result, his toes were amputated. In Sept 1943, he escaped with the rest of the camp via a 200-meter-long tunnel. In 2014 he had a stroke that hit his mind with instant dementia. He raged in Yiddish as he seemed to relive the nightmare of his youth and continuously tried to escape.