blok smierci [death block], auschwitz, poland november 1998
“There’s an old woman standing there by the bars.
why is she crying? there’s no one in the cell.
the cell’s almost bare
just a cracked toilet bowl
and sink with decrepit rags
a raggedy blue and white jacket on the floor,
must’ve been their clothes.”
“She won’t stop crying, and
she won’t move from the bars.
she’s in the way
i can hardly read what the sign says.”
THE WASHROOM WHERE WOMEN STRIPPED BEFORE EXECUTION.
THEN THEY WERE LED IN TWOS TO YARD AND SHOT AT THE “DETH WALL”
“What’s that white shawl with blue stripes she’s wearing?
didn’t we see something like that in an exhibit with those tassels?”
“We’re the last ones in the building.
it’s late. they’ll lock her up inside if she’s not careful.
should we tell her its time to go?”
“No, let’s leave her alone. the guards will let her know.”
they’ve all left.
please, tell me what i need to know.
you who passed through this cell more than fifty years ago
please, please let me know.
i ask for, no,
i beg for your wisdom
i was just an infant
i couldn’t help you then,
but now i can.
please, please i am listening.
ear pressed against the bars,
silence booming through the cold concrete and steel
tallis covers head and torso bars hold my weight
“do not add a ripple of hate
not even a ripple of hate.”