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).