Spring Poem

My Polish father spent five years in the German concentration camp system. He was captured by the Germans in fall of 1940 and finally liberated by the Americans in spring of 1945.

During those five years, he saw men crucified and hung, castrated and frozen to death, women raped and beaten and shot, their breasts torn apart by bayonets, their babies thrown and scattered in the air like sand.

He never thought he would be free.

He thought he would be a slave until he died.

And then the war ended. This is a poem about that. It's from my book about my parents, Echoes of Tattered Tongues.

 

IN THE SPRING THE WAR ENDED

 

For a long time the war wasn't in the camps.

My father worked in the fields and listened

to the wind moving the grain, or a guard

shouting a command far off, or a man dying.

 

But in the fall, my father heard the rumbling

whisper of American planes, so high, like

angels, cutting through the sky, a thunder

even God in Heaven would have to listen to.

 

At last, one day he knew the war was there.

In the door of the barracks stood a soldier,

an American, short like a boy and frightened,

and my father marveled at the miracle of his youth

 

and took his hands and embraced him and told him

he loved him and his mother and father,

and he would pray for all his children

and even forgive him the sin of taking so long.

 

______________

 

There are no photos of my dad in the camps, but this is a photo of him after the war when he was a refugee for 6 years waiting for some country to say "come on over."

He's the fellow in the cap with his hands on his knees. The other fellows are guys who survived Buchenwald with him.

Views: 43

Comment by JMac1949 Today on March 20, 2017 at 11:53am

Excellent as always.  R&L

Comment by koshersalaami on March 20, 2017 at 2:22pm

Agreed

I like rumbling whisper

Comment by Foolish Monkey on March 20, 2017 at 3:16pm

the last stanza is too terrible to imagine but I recognize its truth.

John youre poetry is incredibly eloquent even as it breaks my heart.   thank you for sharing.  

Comment by John Guzlowski on March 20, 2017 at 4:01pm

KosherS, my father loved the sound of those American bombers.  He used to say he would pray over and over God please let them come let them come.  

He knew the damage they did because sometimes he would be sent to the bombed German cities to search for the dying, but still he prayed for the bombers.  

Comment by John Guzlowski on March 20, 2017 at 4:02pm

KosherS, my father loved the sound of those American bombers.  He used to say he would pray over and over God please let them come let them come.  

He knew the damage they did because sometimes he would be sent to the bombed German cities to search for the dying, but still he prayed for the bombers.  

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on March 20, 2017 at 4:58pm

this may be my favorite piece from the book

Comment by John Guzlowski on March 20, 2017 at 5:24pm

I like it too but I have many favorites.  :) 

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