“Flame” by Deborah L. Staunton

Hungary, 1934

Antique brass, darkened with age, Star of David at its center, tucked between plain cotton blouses and threadbare socks in the small brown satchel my grandmother clutches. The S.S. Berengaria carries this child, the first to leave her family, the third of seven sisters and one brother, away from her village, her country, her world. The menorah’s presence steadies her, candle after candle, flame after flame. Eight candles. Eight siblings.

New York City, 1939

The shamash candle stands guard behind and above the others, their light warming the small apartment. Brother and sister join her. Now they are three. Three flames on one side, five on the other. Hitler’s gas extinguishes mother, father, sister, nephews. Seven lives, seven, flames, seven deaths. The menorah burns hot and bright. Eight nights, four survivors, four miracles.

Long Island, 2018

The menorah stands on my kitchen table, thick with dried wax, each holder smaller than the tip of a finger, its orange glow on the snow-dusted windowpane, names and faces echoed in its flame.




Deborah L. Staunton has appeared in Pretty Owl Poetry, Six Hens, The Remembered Arts Journal, Literary Mama, Sheepshead Review, The MacGuffin, and was featured in HBO’s Inspiration Room exhibit in New York City. Her collection of poetry and prose, Untethered, is currently under consideration for publication.