Abraham Nickin

by Michel Nickin from Newport Beach, California in United States

There is Life

In Mexico City, my great-grandfather sold 

Virgin Mary cards and statues on the bus

Even though only a few months before

He had been the master of many men

As the owner of factories

But now he hobbled in cracked leather shoes

Down the dusty bus aisle

Where tired taco vendors and shoe shiners

With weary, vacant eyes nodded off 

to the bumpy beat of endless potholes


Even though he missed his five brothers

And becoming a hawker in a bus was far from

What he had been

His heart danced in the eye of the storm

For at least he was alive, alive

Hitler may have stolen his life in Lithuania

But he hadn’t stolen his soul


A year or two later, when he had heard 

nothing from his five brothers

My great-grandfather returned to Lithuania

To find what he had left behind

But there was no trace of his beloved brothers or parents

Only the smoking ashes of their homes

And the shattered pictures and pieces of their lives


As my great-grandfather sat in the ashes 

with his heart in his hands

A voice shook him back to life

“Your cousin is alive. I’ve kept her in my closet.”

It was Ilse, her German nanny


And suddenly, there was hope

Like sunlight on a dove’s breast

As he strode down the gatve 

To the closet where his cousin hid

Because perhaps, after all,

There was something left behind in the storm

This little girl, a glimmer of his lost brother

For even in the ashes of war

There is life.


Page created on 5/25/2022 2:54:57 AM

Last edited 5/25/2022 3:04:41 AM

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Author Info

Michel Nickin, 15

Michel knows drawing is his kryptonite. In 7th grade, everyone thought his cat drawing was a fish. How that happened no one knows. After several desperate drawing lessons, Michel was finally able to draw a recognizable cat, and to this day, Michel is proud to say he can draw the best cat anyone has seen. Michel likes using deductive reasoning to figure out what he’s doing wrong and predict human behavior. As one of the shortest boys on his water polo team, he likes figuring out patterns to make up for what he lacks in height. Michel is proud of his Hispanic heritage and how his people can concoct deliciousness from such simple ingredients, and in his spare time, he turns food into art. He grew up watching his great-grandfather, El Abu, cook meals for 90 guests in a pot so large it was as tall as he was! Michel is proud of coming from a very close extended family--so close his grandfather and his brothers had a family business where they put all their savings into one shared extended family pot. Michel comes from a long line of servant leaders who believe in trust, generosity and compassionate civic duty.