Anna Swirszczynska

(1909 - 1984 / Warsaw)

The Ghetto: A Mother


Cuddling in the arms her half-asphyxiated baby, howling,
she ran up the staircase of the apartment building that was set ablaze.
From the first floor to the second.
From the second to the third.
From the third to the fourth.

Until she had jumped onto the roof.
There, having choked with air, clinging to the chimney,
she looked down from where she could hear
the crackle of flames which were reaching higher and higher.

And then she became motionless and silent.
She kept silent to the end, till the moment
at which she suddenly clenched her eyelids,
stepped to the roof edge and, throwing forward her arms,
she dropped her baby down.

Two seconds earlier than she herself leapt down.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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