If Found

by Jenni Daiches

On Aspects of Judaism by Salis Daiches, 1928, found by his great-granddaughter in a Wigtown bookshop, September 2012

 

December nineteen forty-four,

the world blind to the whole story

(it will never know the whole story),

the author gifted this book

to Miss Purvin and Mr Arnold Seftor

on the occasion of their marriage.

 

It crossed borders of time and space,

ventured through cloud and dust,

from scholar’s hand to idle interest,

from bookshelf to bedside table,

study to street, capital city

to country town, where the drab blue

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book arrests the eye of a young woman

with a few spare moments to browse.

 

Written when the rabbi’s children’s children

were unimagined, written out of the past

and prophetically defying the present,

now as if the man I never knew

had placed it in my hands,

December two thousand and twelve

on the occasion of my birthday,

 

and tucked inside, a note:

If found, please return this book

to the family of the man who wrote it.

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