“MY MOTHER”: Poetry from Pearls and Lace


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Editor’s Note:
Her last few poems, filled with survivors guilt, which has not been recognized at the time, are addressed to her mother:

My mother taught me to feel, to love,
My mother taught me to cry, to laugh.
My mother taught me goodness and beauty,
But fate snatched her away suddenly.
Since she was taken I have no rest.
She was my life’s vivifying breath.


Last night you were here, you came home to me.
You caressed me, loved me, like in the old days.
It couldn’t have been a dream, it felt like reality,
I could hear your voice, see your dear face.
The two of us talked and you told me everything,
How you thought about us there, how you were worrying.


I always knew how much I loved you,
That I could never leave you behind.
My body may be a worthless worm,
But my soul from yours will never be torn.

Years were passing and the horrible curse came true.
They locked us millions in cattle cars,
And even to you, so faithful to the Almighty,
The murderers denied immunity.

I couldn’t do for you a thing.
Watching you my eyes were weeping.
I wanted to follow you everywhere – even
At the price of my life, I thought then.

But on a horrible night, as our train
Slowed down and stopped in the open plain,
They stole you from me, my only treasure.
And yet, I could continue on further.

When the snow fell, I worried about you only,
You were by my side at every step.
When I got tired, you led me ahead,
You stroked me, you held my hand.

This is how I survived the dreadfully big struggle
And I returned to the old abode.
Since then I always search to find you, to reunite,
I expect you morning, noon, and night.

I always knew how much I loved you.
My soul has never left you, followed you even then.
And down here, lifelessly, I play a farce – I mime,
This world is no longer mine.

by Magdalena Klein

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