Luthier by Rikki Santer


         For the last two decades, Israeli Amnon Weinstein
         has been locating and restoring violins that were
         played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.

Of and not of the habit of terror. Each violin
a door to the many. The many. The barbed

accounts, these unsung bodies, in bereft immensity,
surrendered to a past that won’t take them back.

In his workshop, the luthier planes the faces
of those hurled from cattle cars, buried under poppies,

human ashes still lingering in their inner chambers.
Each fragile restoration denounces the ribcage

of those gunmetal skies. Yahrzeit candles nest in pine
trees of Ponary, line the train tracks of Auschwitz, Sobibor,

Bergen-Belsen, Theresienstadt. In his workshop, he
resuscitates peg boxes, fingerboards, weary scrolls. Mother

of pearl inlays are revived for their Stars of David. Each holy
instrument a testimony, their strings learn to quiver again

with vowels that sing from collar bones of legacy for ghosts
of six million mouths that once ached for the ear of God.


Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors including several Pushcart and Ohioana book award nominations, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in 2023 she was designated as Ohio Poet of the Year. Her twelfth poetry collection, Resurrection Letter: Leonora, Her Tarot, and Me, is a sequence in tribute to the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Please contact her through her website,

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