• Joanna Seldon

  • NHMD


    Like the vertically toppling gravestones

    I left behind in Prague’s cemetery –

    No time to say good-bye to those beneath –

    We stagger, shoulders crashing together,

    In the cattle truck.  I try to hold you

    As close as I can to the barred window:

    Fresh air.  Breathe, little one, breathe this dark day

    And many more to come.  Please sir – I know

    It’s hard – you’re feeling worse than I am now –

    But try not to vomit on my baby.

    I clutch her tight, side-stepping a puddle.


    I’m here; now.  Holocaust Memorial Day.

    My children are alive.  They came with me

    To hear the poem read aloud – the one

    I wrote for you and Ruth.  I tried

    To make it real – you clutching the baby

    As, together, you took that final walk

    Into the chamber.  Strange word.  That chamber

    Wasn’t bridal.  A chamber of horrors:

    Stationary cattle truck with no air –

    Only the deathly stench, the gas that laid

    Its pall over these past seventy years.

    We each light a candle and clutch a stone.

    The altar floor is shimmering with stones.

    We are far now from that cemetery.

            We lay the stones down.