Small Black Suitcase
( Lines for Holocaust Memorial Day, Monday, 27th, January, 2020 )
Your mother gave you a small black suitcase,
told you to never let it leave your hand,
and to be good like the other children
on the long journey to another land.
It was loud and big in Berlin station,
you were bundled on the crowded train.
You managed to stand stiff by a window,
too hollow and cold to feel any pain.
Thought you were on some kind of holiday,
maybe to the seashore or to the zoo.
Later, you found out why you had to go.
It was because your father was a Jew.
You felt as lost as the other children,
but you liked the Quaker school in England.
Your teachers allowed you to play outside.
Later, what happened, you would understand.
Now you look at your mother’s photograph.
Gone with your father, they did not survive
the holocaust in the camp in Poland,
liberated in 1945.
You feel your hand grip the small black suitcase,
hear the hard roll of the wheels of the train,
search among shadows in Berlin station
for faces you will never see again.
In German it was called kindertransport
that which saved you from the worst of the war,
let you sleep undisturbed in your shelter,
without shouts of soldiers at your door.
The watchtowers and electric fences,
the mass graves dug at the end of it all,
you know now what your parents saved you from,
how far down your fellow humans can fall.
One of the last holocaust survivors,
you speak in the name of those who were killed.
You say it is your duty to do so,
until your voice has no strength and is stilled.