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“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
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,
Eyes that could not understand-
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
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?”