Still Dry

Still Dry

It is still dry but bitter

Outside this dreich February afternoon

The revolving, alternating jaws of the door

Have like three human bubbles

Three smoking patients in wheelchairs;

All have one part of a leg missing

One has a hat with baubles drooping by each ear

Around them on the ground, on the grass

Many small brown sentries

A dead army of cigarette ends

Who-when the drier weather comes

Can swirl in and endanger well-prepared hair

Of any nurses or civilians

The new hospital cost millions to build

It is costing millions still.

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A Number, A Life Not Saved

*(Visit to Auschwitz October 12)

28721 Irena UlaTowski

As alive as my son born

And made flesh from the womb:

Irena’s picture on the Auschwitz block’s wall

Is a desperate pick-out by me

Everyone’s photograph is fresh and alive

Soon to be made dust

By a well-dressed, well-fed Nazi machine;

The Khmer Rouge, Rwanda, the Balkans’ slaughter

Always an intelligence reigns over the killing and foot soldiers

Bathe in the power and blood.

Irena-I would find your family

Find your memory and live in your shoes

Just a little thing to pay back the tiniest fraction

Of a peaceful revenge on the bullying and horrors

Of this world and what was yours.

Waiting for the Auschwitz Bus

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Just another pair of feet

Another pair of ears

To grasp Polish, Czech or German being spoken;

Holding the bus papers and

Feeling a chill this October

As autumn deepens in this free Krakow

We go to see where Levi, Wiesel* questioned God, being

Where the many were butchered and the few watched

And hung, seared and burnt

Not aliens but us, not them, us.

*

Born September 30, 1928, Eliezer Wiesel led a life representative of many Jewish children. Growing up in a small village in Romania, his world revolved around family, religious study, community and God. Yet his family, community and his innocent faith were destroyed upon the deportation of his village in 1944. Arguably the most powerful and renowned passage in Holocaust literature, his first book, Night, records the inclusive experience of the Jews:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

Continue reading “Waiting for the Auschwitz Bus”

Settled in Krakow

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In the cafe we sit cheek by jowl

A Scot and a Kravokian citizen

And I imagine her autumn coat, fine hat

Being the same some hundred years past

Her imperious posture and magesterium reduced

Only slightly by the olympic force of the orange, plastic seating

A fictional story runs as my fantastic apple pie is eaten…

There is no one at home and a brother lives in Chicago;

They haven’t spoken since he refused to attend mother’s funeral,

This is broken by the taking of her hand by a friend-similarly dressed

And by the cupping of her gaze by another lady aquaintance as they acknowledge

They are here, in Krakow, city of culture, city of the dragon under the castle.