Thursday, July 7, 2011


         The trains seemed to moved only in one direction to Belzec

Eerily empty on the way back, no one returned from there..

Belzec , even the name rings of horror and desecration.

Should not be allowed to be uttered aloud

banned  from memory. Burned to the ground. Erased.

A group of us escaped to avoid the deportation order

with a three year old child, another mother was

inconsolable wanting to turn back for hers.

At day we hid in the forest and walked on moonless nights

We reached the border and paid an Ukrainian farmer to hide us.

But Ignatz,  the three year old would not be quieted.

One day he escaped our vigilance, too restless to be contained

he ran free  into the fields of tall grass with frenzied joy

and chased the geese and  gathered poppies red.

The farmer warned us, said he could not hide us with

that child who endangered us all.

More fear descended on our daily dose of fear.

His father a gentle man, said what we did not dared.

“He will have to die to spare us all .We are doctors and  know ,

where to press to extinguish life without pain”.

Even the mother was silent, distracted  with

the enormity of what was contemplated.

Then loving hands encircled his little neck

and without a sound it broke like a stem.

The realisation of our complicity silenced us .

Someone not certain if it was I, finally said:

“We stopped being human then.” 

I sing of you Ignatz  this day

And of your life, sacrificed  for so little.

Not even as Isaac to propitiate a god but spared.

Simply for being a child, and like children all

compelled to play and seek the light of day.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Antonia Baranov

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