At the Funeral of My Friend George Konrad
What are you doing inside that box,
dear friend? What are you doing there,
dissident-in-residence, man of a thousand smiles,
guest in your own country? A small flotilla
of rabbis surrounds you, here in yet
another Jewish ghetto, much like the ghetto
you hid in as they were shot into the Danube.
Now, you are surrounded again
by lapsed Jews of all sorts, fellow scribes,
five children, two wives, countless neighbors,
friends, admirers of all sorts. But, still,
what are you doing inside that box?
Twenty-six years ago, we met in the bar
on the 15th floor of the Hotel Budapest,
you talking as usual to someone with a
tape recorder and pen, eager to share your wisdom.
I, too, was eager to share your wisdom—
stories of the famous and unknown,
so many lives squeezed into a single life.
“A man’s life is nothing,” your father said
as he lay dying, but your life was something,
your life was special. Now they will bury you
in the earth, where you once buried
your own manuscripts, as if they were
reuniting you with your own words. But you
Yet, still, it is hard for me to understand
what you are doing inside that box,
since no box is big enough
no box could be big enough
no box will ever be big enough
to steal your massive spirit from this earth.
22 September 2019