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  • Writer's pictureRiley Adler

Our Everything

Style: Poetry

Writer's Statement: “Our Everything” serves as an Ode to commemorate my grandfather, whose birth enabled him, my Great-Grandfather, and my Great-Grandmother to escape Austria during the Holocaust. I aimed to capture the hopelessness of my great-grandparents’ situation before they had my grandfather and contrast it with the hope they felt when they had an infant and future generations to live for. I titled this poem “Our Everything” because without my grandfather, my family (my everything) would simply not exist; his birth saved our lineage, from the lives of his parents to the lives of his children and grandchildren.


A Nazi stole your father

on Kristallnacht night.

Hundreds of Jews were slaughtered,

helpless in their flight.

Bigots brimmed with untamed power,

their swords slashed our only light.

The fatal flying flame devoured

any Jewish man in sight.


Your poor fading father.

Dachau broke him into pieces.

Facing the constant threat of slaughter,

he wept in rotting feces.

He dreamed of a son,

he thought he would never meet.

Assuming his time was done,

 he surrendered to defeat.


But you saved our family.

Grandpa, you saved our everything.


She heard whispers of a miracle

and out comes your mama’s first-born.

You’re the savior of the family

and no longer can she mourn.

Your mother forges papers.

highlighting all her routes.

No money, just escapers.

Three desperate Jews plotting their way out.


Your father hopped barbed wire,

evading an entire empire.

He flew to you, higher and higher.

For you are the only thing that mattered.

For you, your parents became fighters.

They clutched each other even tighter

and gazed upon you hand in hand

until they set foot on American land.


For you, they would risk anything.

For you are their everything.

Without you, we would have succumbed to 

the fate of other Jews.

And although you are gone now,

I’ll always say “thank you”

because you saved our family.

Grandpa, you saved our everything.

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