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Holocaust
by Sudeep Pagedar
    - Selected Poems


How do you
explain that term
to a ten-
year old boy
who, one day,
hears it mentioned
by some relatives?

And even if
you do manage
to make him
understand what it
actually does mean,
do you also
tell him that
because he is

A GERMAN JEW,

perhaps, some day,
he might be
included in it...?

Or should he
just not be
told, so that
he remains calm
and doesn't lose
sleep over it?

But what is sleep,
in front of death?
Perhaps Death is greater,
perhaps the two are the same;
we do not know yet
but we'll know, by the end of the day;
the Chambers are yet some hours away.

"To die, to sleep...to sleep, perchance to dream..."

How did Shakespeare realise that?
Did he know some Jew
who was persecuted too?
Perhaps he was wrong,
maybe he was right...
Anyway, I suspect we'll find out
by tonight.




Tale of a Sprinter, in the Winter of 1938

by Sudeep Pagedar


THE PAST -

I am an athlete from Berlin,
my feet are fast and swift.
I can run faster than anyone!
Truly, this is the Lord's gift!

Any race I participate in,
I always come in first,
for I tell myself, "I HAVE to win";
it is like a great thirst.

Even if someone, somehow passes me,
I put on an extra burst of speed
and run past him, leaving him behind;
thus, I take the lead.

I once thought, "If I keep running this way,
I might be in the Olympics, some day..."

THE PRESENT -

But now the year is nineteen-thirty-eight
And for my dreams, it's just too late.

My running days are all gone,
I'm not going to see tomorrow's dawn.


Yes, it is true
that I can run very fast;
But it is also true
that I am a Jew...
There's no running, from the Holocaust.

 




Holocaust
by Barbara Sonek


We played, we laughed
we were loved.
We were ripped from the arms of our
parents and thrown into the fire.
We were nothing more than children.
We had a future. We were going to be lawyers, rabbis, wives, teachers, mothers. We had dreams, then we had no hope. We were taken away in the dead of night like cattle in cars, no air to breathe smothering, crying, starving, dying. Separated from the world to be no more. From the ashes, hear our plea. This atrocity to mankind can not happen again. Remember us, for we were the children whose dreams and lives were stolen away.

 


Frozen Jews
Avrom Sutzkever
July 10, 1944


Have you seen, in fields of snow, frozen Jews, row on row? Blue marble forms lying, not breathing, not dying.

Somewhere a flicker of a frozen soul - glint of fish in an icy swell. All brood. Speech and silence are one. Night snow encases the sun.

A smile glows immobile from a rose lip's chill. Baby and mother, side by side. Odd that her nipple's dried.

Fist, fixed in ice, of a naked old man: the power's undone in his hand. I've sampled death in all guises. Nothing surprises.

Yet a frost in July in this heat - a crazy assault in the street. I and blue carrion, face to face. Frozen Jews in a snowy space.

Marble shrouds my skin. Words ebb. Light grows thin. I'm frozen, I'm rooted in place like the naked old man enfeebled by ice.