from Voices of the Holocaust
She carefully unlaced her grandmother’s boots,
then kicked off her own. Before the pair: the river.
Behind them: Jason, the neighbours’ son from the square
lit by the frozen snow – and his machinegun.
Jason, discharging his first-ever magazine.
Jason, standing stunned as the tumbling bodies
are whisked away and gone with the turbulent current.
…Had he done that? Was there so little to life?
Clothing, canvas, rent and ransacked,
billow with the scent of death.
The needle nose of a woodland fox
patrols the damp, deserted camp.
How many nights must pass before
I need not wake up anymore?
Like ink on the blotting paper, the number
tattooed in Auschwitz splinters and spreads
on the inside of my lower left arm
when I ride the tram in the summer
and, forgetting myself, I happen
to hang on to the strap.
May I never lift my right arm
if I forget the mark on my left.
Suddenly I speak in my mother's voice.
Suddenly I speak in my father's voice.
Suddenly I hear my people speak
in my voice.
translated by Thomas Land
If you have any comments on these poems, Thomas Land would be pleased to hear from you.