Sunflower | Teen Ink


March 27, 2022
By Laislima0 BRONZE, Midvale, Utah
Laislima0 BRONZE, Midvale, Utah
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

“Simon, do you hear?”

“Yes”, I said, “I hear.”

“A day without Jews

And our everyday without God.

All around I heard the anxious whispers,

Where are we going?


With melancholy, sick humor, and vulgar words, we cried

And we sang 

As our gaze roamed crowds on pavements

Looking anxiously for any face we knew

While their gazes roamed back to us 

And wrote us off as doomed.

Or was it merely an excess of sensitiveness?

They can only look up to heaven and say:

‘O God Almighty, come back from your leave

And look at thy earth again’.

So that’s the news;

God has abandoned us?

I read somewhere that it is impossible

To break a man’s firm belief.

Well, a concentration camp taught me differently.


One day, I found myself in a line 

Of doomed non-beings-

Or at least, that’s how we were seen.

I started to walk on my past. 

I looked up and I saw my diploma being handed to me.

But it was so far away that it seemed unreal.

Then someone came to me;

I was dragged out of my past once more.

We walked over a hallway

I feared my death

As always.

Suddenly, I found myself facing my worst enemy,

Still fearing what could be yet to come,

I listened to him.

A redemption wish on the brink of his death.

Why should I listen to him?

Is it fair to sit here, 

Look at the window,

Side by side with the enemy,

And remember that 

That vile creature would one day

Have a sunflower planted on his grave

To watch over him? 

I heard the voice that prevented me 

From obeying my instinct.

I guess I wanted to hear from his own mouth

In his own words

The full horror of the Nazis’ inhumanity.

And so he went all the way across

His bitter story.

Eyes I shall never forget,

Questioning eyes.

Eyes that could not understand-

Accusing eyes.

Eyes that one never forgets. 

“Black hair and dark eyes”, he said, 

“I can see the child and his father and his mother.”

“Yes. I see them plain before my eyes..”

The mixed sound of screams and shots.

The mixed emotions of fear, despair,

And God knows what else.


I stood up and turned my eyes to him,

And at his folded hands,

Rested a sunflower.

One asks the other for help, 

But how could the other help

Since the other was himself helpless?

And to his final question,

To his honest repentance,

I could not give him an answer.

And so I did

As we did:

We devoured every word spoken by fortune-tellers.

We often clung to completely

Nonsensical interpretations

If only they gave us a ray of hope

For better times.

Sometimes, I catch myself reflecting 

If I had the chance,

Would I do it differently?

Would you do it differently?

If you will, ask yourself,

While you remember 

Of the black-eyed boy,

Of his family,

And of all the other ones who were consumed by fire

Or had their bodies ripped off by a bullet;

“What would I have done?”

The author's comments:

This poem is about the Holocaust, but more specifically the book The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal: a survivor of the horrors of the Holocaust. I read this book, for the first time, this year and I could not help but to find a way to communicate - even if it was just the smallest portion - of the deep and important story of this man, this brave-and-frightened young man. I also wanted to share, through this poem, the necessity that we have to get aware of such events in our history. We need to acknowledge what happened, what led to it, and what is our role and duty, today, towards the person or group/community affected by this event, so that we can prevent it, in the ways we can, from happening again.

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