Miles Liss was born in Boston, but his family soon moved to a moshav in Israel. When they returned, the family settled in South Florida. Miles currently lives in the DC area, where he teaches high school English and special education.
The headstone on my father’s grave,
Survivors (Old Miami Beach)
The Holocaust survivors played shuffleboard
in the park and danced under the bandshell
by the ocean to 1940’s big band jazz.
They twirled each other and we watched
their joyful movements. They were another tribe.
One that lived with us, but separate.
In their colorful hats and beach sandals,
they sat in folding chairs and gazed
out at the Atlantic—mild and green
with tiny whitecaps on the distant waves.
Every once in a while, I’d see the numbers
on their arms, faded green tattoos unevenly marked
for erasure. But Hitler’s death camps
had fallen away and now they were just
trying to live. The blue skies swam in ecstasy
for a sliver of time in old Miami Beach,
while we played baseball in summer leagues,
learning what it meant to be American.