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.