I came to hear -- the last train whistle leaving Berlin,
escaping to the West-- the only sane noise
left in a young girls ears, blocking out the bombs,
wiping them clean from her memory.
I came to hear-- the growl of empty
stomachs churning from too many days
of gobbling raw potatoes stolen from the farmer’s field.
Bald headed mothers and children—classified undernourished C.
I came to see --the hopeful stare of a mother with five children
who vainly searched for her husband--
drafted and missing.
I came to smell the horror-- of a child
exhumed a month after he died, wrapped in nothing but a blanket,
reburied by his brothers-- tormented with lit cigarettes and cold steel.
I came to learn-- the truth of a young couple and their infant daughter
who immigrated to a new country
glistening with opportunity,
unschooled in the language,
having only their youth and wellbeing.
I came to know-- a young girl
who helped her parents learn the slang and the dialect,
who lived in the railroad apartment on the second floor,
of an old brownstone in Manhattan, where she learned to hate vegetables
and climb fire escapes.
The one with the crooked bangs
and the stubborn smile
who waited and held on tight,
and never forgot
what her Mother told her
about the horror
A story passed down
piecing together fractured lives,
seizing-- stolen moments,
storing up-- the laughter
and the tears.
I came to hear.