Jared Carter

Alte Frau Und Kinder - Poem by Jared Carter

Come along, and I will tell you
one last story, children,
Different from all the other stories
you heard on the train.

It is a story about leaving home,
and coming to a new place
Where your mama and your papa
will hold you in their arms.

But first we must get clean,
we must take off all our clothes
So the water will splash down
and make us feel good again.

When we are done, there will be apples
and bread and cheese,
And a place to lie down and rest,
and close your eyes.

We have come so very far,
and stayed together all this time,
And we are almost there now.
Come along, children. Come along.

First published in The Long Story.

Below: photograph taken at Auschwitz-Birkenau in May or June of 1944, possibly by Hauptscharführer Bernhard Walter. It shows an elderly woman and three children, most likely transported from Czechoslovakia, who have just climbed down from a boxcar with their meager possessions in hand. Their heads are still wrapped in kerchiefs that protected them from the smoke and cinders of the steam locomotives that pulled the train. Moments earlier, during the 'selection' process on the ramp, they were ordered by SS officers to go to the left, and are now on their way to the gas chamber.

Topic(s) of this poem: hope, inhumanity, sadness, tragedy

Form: Quatrain

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Poem Submitted: Friday, May 19, 2017

Poem Edited: Saturday, May 20, 2017

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