The Girl Whose Dress was a Parachute
By David Almaleck Wolinsky1

A Jewish bride and groom pose cutting their wedding cake.  Pictured are Harry Jagoda with his Yugoslavian Jewish bride, Florica Kabilio.
Flory and Harry Jagoda z”l cut the cake in Bari, Italy. Photo courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum photo archive.

It was her wedding dress, and yes
it was cut from troopers' cloth.
In Italy in 1944 the entire 244th, USA,
was there before the hoopah.

Ay! The girl had flown away!
Would that the tiyas and all the famiya
scrambling from the Germans in Vlasenica
could have flown away!

Over the marriage canopy
floated the gray breath of ghosts,
of guards and their dogs,
the black breath of engines
that made families into ashes.

But it was her wedding:
The girl had become a woman;
who would trade her woven
grit and valor for any mere silk?

Memories? She wove them into music.
Red tones. Black tones. White
music like silk and clouds.
And she was young.

A man wrote this
while listening to chacarera.
Not exactly Jewish, but who knows?
Some of the quick salteño lilt
may have drifted over from Italy,
or even from Al-Andalus.
Stranger things have befallen,
and will befall us.

And that man, in any case,
unfolds from a peddler's case
kantikas, romanzas, llantos
of many keys. He does not have
la llave de España, or the one
from his native Bronx –
or the one from keyless Auschwitz.

No need. Not for the house
of his heart, nor his numbered days.
Nona Flory opens him.
Smiles him open.
Sings him open.

So song, born with wings,
descends with its halo,
a parachute of tears.

1. David (Davichon) Almaleck Wolinsky grew up in the Bronx, partaking in both Ashkenazi and Sephardic life, absorbing Sephardic culture through his mother and grandmother, originally from Salonika. His grandfather became a gaucho in Argentina, but journeyed to New York to meet his late brother’s wife, and marry her. Thus David's mother was born in New York. David has been an editor, writer and teacher, and has been writing poems for fifty years.

Flory Jagoda, the subject of this poem, met and married her late husband, Harry, z”l, in Italy in wartime. For more information on her life story, see Rosine Nussenblatt’s interviews with her at:, as well as the forthcoming documentary, Flory’s Flame.

Copyright by Sephardic Horizons, all rights reserved. ISSN Number 2158-1800