“I’M TELLING THE STORY”: Poetry from Pearls and Lace


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Editor’s Note:
Finally, the last cycle of her life are characterized first by the outrage of what has happened to her and her family. Her first poem in this cycle describes her concentration camp experience:

I’m telling the story today, for it has dawned.
I’m telling what has not yet been told.
For such a thing has never happened,
Although wretched barbarians lived before.
So cruelly no one ever murdered,
So meanly no one ever robbed.
Hellish suffering scraped our bodies
When we lost everyone.
We lost them in the dark of the night,
Allowed them to march into the mass grave.
And yet we suffered on, for we could hope
To see them one day.
In rags, soiled, infested with lice,
Stabbed by hunger and lined up by fives,
Mother her child and child her mother,
Waited with beating hearts to see each other.
When one day the bombs came like a message,
Everyone was happy, every face beamed.
May we yet see the Russian friend!
Oh, may we just hold a red flag in hand
And see our murderous executioner shackled!
If need be, I don’t care if we all perish,
Just that we live to see this one thing.
But in late autumn they marched us on
Into the dark green forest, on to wild desolate lands,
Never to see the deliverance.
Unclad frail feet were trudging in the snow
To dig deep trenches with enslaved hands.
I was easier in Auschwitz in the dusty land.
In our thoughts we often returned home,
But sometimes our hope would abate.
Then one day, like a maddening dazzling dream,
Our saviours came on white horse and sleigh.
Seeing us, the splendid warriors cried
And swore revenge on the Berlin executioner’s hide.
From this bonding we concluded an eternal alliance,
And blessed shall be the memory of the day
When freedom was given to every slave
And men from animals were born men again.

by Magdalena Klein

From Magdalena Klein, Susan Geroe (editor) Pearls and Lace.
Copyright © 1996 Fithian Press. Excerpts used by permission of editor.