Read Poems by
The Red Babushka
Nineteen twenty-four and the wind was cold,
When men in uniform entered our town;
Forced us to leave in their boxcars,
Made us believe that it was for our own safety.
With no time to fix our things
We hurriedly got in the box.
And when everyone was in,
The doors were locked.
The place was hell
For not even a whisper of wind
Could enter the place,
Nor could a light shine through its walls.
Our eyes were dry and lips cracked
Plead for just a single drop;
As four nights and days we travelled
Inside the cars with no food or water.
The box unimaginable in its very state,
For dung and human liquid fragranced the place.
Weak-hearted both young and old struggled to live
Even the strong wished not to survive.
And on the fourth day, the box went to a halt!
Survivors were singing songs to God;
“Please end this tormented journey,
And deliver us home safely.”
Light shone as the heavy doors were opened!
We dropped to our knees
Hoping the place was Paradise
But Paradise was it not for we were in Hell.
Ironically, the gate held words
Like that as ‘Beware of the Dog.’
Written in frostbitten wood saying:
“ARBEIT MACHT FREI.”
My mind was puzzled upon seeing those,
How could labor set you free,
When labor here meant
Dying in force and agony.
Jew, work or die!
Jew, never complain and lie!
Those were the words
That became music in our ears,
As we bent our bones
Working for freedom that is bound.
Jew, form your lines!
Jew, the choosing has come!
And in this place we call Hell,
An Angel waits for preys.
Not to feed to its cherubim
But to the ovens decay.
Jew, old and sick!
Jew, to the ovens burn!
As the sun paints the sky red,
A gray smoke danced with the setting clouds,
And in the heavens, the old and sick smile
Grateful to be forever free from the Angel.
On and on, the days passed by
Not faster but years it seem.
Millions were killed by the monsters of time,
Feeding them to the hungry gas ovens.
Then one even night,
I dreamt of food, of home,
Of freedom and safety
And a voice calling me to follow.
I had no choice but to obey,
For in that moment I was already tired,
Sick and losing hope that once was mine
But seem to be forever lost.
On the 16th of March,
I lied still in my shelf.
I slept forever smiling,
With my red babushka in hand.
But disappointed and angry was I
To share the very day of my death
To the birth of the Malach-ha-mavis:
The Angel of Death.