Found Poem – ‘Survival in Auschwitz’ – “Shoes and Whistles”

Shoes and Whistles

They worry about shoes.

One manages to gain equilibrium after the trauma.

But the man ejected into the dark and cold is as helpless as a new-born baby.

I find myself in these conditions but I am in luck. I have my best friend.

            He entered unscathed and uncorrupted and did not become corrupt.

            I still see in him the strong man.

But I did not manage to bunk with him.

Pity, for trust is an advantage – it is winter and the nights are long.

            Forced smells and warmth exchanged under the same blanket.

            It is desirable that he be a friend.

            In the winter, the nights are long.

They worry about those numbed sores which bleed at every step all day.

            And so, the bell rings for the last ceremony of the day:

            ‘Wer hat kaput die Schuhe?’ followed by desperate haste.

            Then there is quiet, the lights are turned out definitively.

I do not know my bed-companion.

            He wraps himself in the blanket, I struggle on the straw mattress.

            Forced into immobility on the wooden edge, I soon fall asleep;

            Asleep on the tracks of a railroad.

I am not yet so asleep as not to be aware.

            My sleep is light, only one step higher on the ladder

between the unconscious and the conscious.

I can still register noises: this distant whistle.

My sister is here. She looks at me, gets up and goes away.

            Desolating grief is born in me.

            A pain that makes children cry

            I awake.

 I can hear the sleepers breathing and snoring

            Some lick their lips and move their jaws; dreaming of eating.

            A dream which the creator of Tantalus must have known.

            The dream of food is held up to your lips, then the dream dissolves.

Nights drag on; the dream of Tantalus woven into indistinct images:

            Suffering of hunger, cold.

            Fear of blows, nightmares, and unheard-of violence.


I worry about shoes.

            I climb down to the floor and put my shoes on.

            The sores reopen.

            A new day begins.




About NateFuller

Amateur computer scientist, elite eater of foods.
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