A-7713

He carried these tattoed numbers on his arm for a lifetime, and on this day ltwo years ago, Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor, died at the age of 87. He took the holocaust out of history books, and with his powerful words, seared it into our conscience. I wrote this poem after reading his book Night, in which he talks about the last time he saw his mother.

Sparrow

In the cold winter months
with moonless skies,
She flew down from the clouds
to sit on my shoulder
and see me through the night.
 
I felt her gently
through the tattered fabric
that covered my shoulders and
Striped its way down to my knees;
a vain barrier between skin and snow.
 
The first time She came
was when I saw Mama last.
They dragged Mama away,
her feet making long tracks
in pure winter snow.
 
Mama’s body was theirs to kill,
Her soul was God’s alone.
She came from the blackness of the smoke
to light the fire in my soul
and soften the hunger in my belly.
 
 
My little sparrow held me up
when I was too weak to stand.
While they starved my body
She nourished my soul,
and stopped me from dying.
 
I had to live
for Mama, for papa, and Elsa too.
I was the fragment that remained
from the fabric of our lives.
The thread was mine to weave.
 
Night after night
She sat on my shoulder
to see me through till dawn,
and when I wanted to fly with her
She wanted me to stay.
 
When finally the gates of hell opened
And the air was ours to breathe
And the land was ours to roam  
It was then, and only then
that Mama stopped coming to me at night.
 
 

(Image courtesy of Baltimore Jewish life website).

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