Eulogy to the Holocaust |
The Last Prayer |
A Family Tree By Numbers
A Family Tree
by Ruth Mandel
If the concentration camps had been liberated in 1943 or 1944
I could have done my family tree
Now only one such branch, Auschwitz-Birkenau 6 4 1 8 9,
(my great aunt Erna)
still smoulders from the brand
against unwilling skin.
My uncle Henryk is the child
neighbours promised to protect.
They threw him onto the street,
denounced him at the age of nine,
they kicked him and kicked him.
And I am told that my grandmother
knew in a dream from her hiding place
that he was made to bleed to death slowly
on the street.
My grandmother Henia finds
on the branch that is my middle name.
And same too
my great grandmother Ruth
about whom I can know almost nothing.
My father Roman (Raymond now),
a small child then,
receives reparations payments from the German government.
In spite of his fear, he has grafted
three children to absent bark.
In spite of the flames stalking him,
searing his offspring,
transferring the genetically coded
that who I am
must never be selected (that word)
not for one split second
not on my life
That if ever I am only a Jew to a Nazi
only a woman to a man
only a soldier to an army
only an obstacle to a bullet
If ever I am only
a number of a name