HEIRLOOM for A.M. Klein

Endre Farkas

​I was conceived by lovers bound for Auschwitz,

Belsen, Birkenau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen,
and every other camp that was,
is and ever will be.



I am the seed of every man-child
who was rounded up like livestock,
loaded into cattle-cars
and shipped off to a final solution.



I grew in the womb of every woman
who was shaved, tattooed
and lined up naked
next to gas chambers

I am a child of children
stripped of their innocence in death camps;
torn from grief-numbed parents who knew
but were helpless and were gassed
and cremated into Pure Jews.



I am their next day
starved on stale bread
and crumbs of that
saved for tomorrow
in case things got worse.



I am their remembrance of home;
how right now,
this would be happening,
that would be talked about,
and Oh the food
cooked,
served,
given thanks for,
eaten!



I am their luck, stumbled into;
an extra potato peel in the slop
grabbed quickly, gratefully,
without the strength to question.



I am their songs        
begun by mad, angelic voices
which would not be silenced:
which grew wings and flew into their hearts,
and let them escape for a minute
the barbed wires, the towers,
the smokestacks and the soap.



I am their endless stories
retold between endless roll-calls,
between endless hard labour,
between endless beatings,
between endless deaths,
and a moment of sleep.



And through the telling
be safe, beautiful,
full of life.



I am their hope
(some called it God)
when none is possible
because they know no better
because they know nothing else is possible.



I am their noble lineage,
their proud ancestry.



I am their priceless heirloom
hidden from murderers
where it could not be found.



I am their surviving words.

 

 


From  Surviving Words
1994