Abraham Sutzkever

(1913 - 2010 / Smorgon, Russian Empire)

March Through Swamps - Poem by Abraham Sutzkever


We splash
Through flooding copper.
We carry
Forest-partisans on naked shoulders.
Behind us —
In wheeling circles, the enemy.
Ahead —
Breathing in moon-scales —

Winks, draws us in, the melting soil.
The legs, sunk somewhere deep …
On frog-keys
They play
A hymn to the swamps.


Glimmer —
A star in the mud —
Is rest there?
Knees — ensnarled in phosphor-nets.
Bellies — bound with glowworm belts.
Pounding on naked bodies
Frosty flaming sweat.
Soon — soon —
The naked bodies will sink,
Arms — no longer strain to stretch
High up, clutching the guns.

Only a lost sigh over shoulders
Floods consciousness
Over our maddened senses.
They grasp how real is
The serpentine intoxication,
And tear apart net after net — —

We harden the swamps with our will.
We draw to the island, the hidden hill.
We shall get there. Bold, bolder!
We carry wounded partisans on our shoulders.

Zazherye Forest, October 13, 1943

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Poem Submitted: Monday, July 21, 2014

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