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Numbers (Holocaust Poem)

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How can you tell a 10 year- old boy
A story that’s, though widely known,
Is rooted with pain, back down History’s lane
With the tear of not one man alone

If he can grasp it, can you say why?
Explain why this nightmare came true?
Forget empathy, just truth’s cruelty
Can you say it’s because he’s a Jew?

You pity this boy who discovered the truth
With innocent eyes, safe but damp
But fathom the pain that a young boy would feel
Who finds home in the Auschwitz camp?

A place where a number, revolting to see
Would be scarred to your arm: a tattoo
Where you can foresee your life cloaked in debris
Just because you are a Jew

Like forced to pace down a thin line of string
You’d yet to learn when it would end
When one with a gun would pursue you and shoot
Till then, you’d have prayer to depend

You are now known as 546776
A name that is foreign to you
But you haven’t seen pain, not the least bit of it
You haven’t seen what they can do… yet

Two soldiers stroll by wearing cold, depthless eyes
They halt with a barbarous glare
These two Nazis glance at your bright, golden star
He cackles then grabs for your hair

You cry to Adonai and bet for their mercy
They chuckle; your pain is amusing
They press their gun to your chin; despite what pain you’re in
They don’t care if it’s Jews they’re abusing

First time in your life, you lie on a shelf
As you listen to solitude’s tune
The soundlessness rings, past memory sings
And you lift your chin up to the moon

“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul will keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul will take”

Because you perceive the very good chance
You could wake up staring at death
Part of you yearns to escape from this hell
The other is holding your breath

You know you don’t have much to do
But grip onto life’s precious rope
‘Cause you look at this world through Heaven’s wide eyes
You have one life and only to cope

This boy escaped through a hidden path out
Determined through colorless wrong
‘Cause not wearing thin and not giving in
Was destiny’s chance all along

Six million Jews sucked in their last breath
And died ‘fore their lives could begin
Now those who survive walk with heads held high
With a number tattooed on their skin.

(intaliaswords.com)



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