i went to auschwitz and birkenau this weekend and all i got was a minor emotional breakdown and the intense desire to call my grandmother.
also, i wrote this poem. it’s called something that i haven’t come up with yet.
[here in poland — kim selling (april 25, 2011)]
the cafeteria worker at auschwitz has eyeliner for days
thick dry charcoal streaks
and a pink lip with one smile left for me
which she wasted, by the way.
i didn’t deserve one.
i couldn’t last the day.
this place is for thoughts
not for forgiveness or clemency,
but i still can’t hear german or russian
spoken without a loud cringe
and frozen whimper erupting
from my frame,
all plastic chair graduation style,
up against the wall.
the waves of your face strike against me
one by one all day,
arguing hard and fast with fluorescent lights,
a solid constant scream
of frustrated pregnancy.
i don’t hate you. i’m not racist.
i just can’t handle any trace of you
or your country.
we’ll play bride and groom,
but there are no patients here, nor witnesses.
it’s not your fault, it wasn’t your plan.
it’s just that there are people in my life
who weren’t allowed to meet me.
there are insects everywhere,
fire ants and tiny worker bees.
giant no smoking signs hang across
the entrance to the crematorium, and i am told
to be silent and respectful
past the threshold.
but there are millions of cigarette butts
laid out by toe-measured inches,
tiny obstacles covered
in wriggling ant bodies,
and i am quiet, i’ve let
the crowd of tourist children
shutter clicking accent rounding
collective gasp of sighs
take precedence over my
awkward foot shuffle and
these buildings stand still for a reason.
so that we will never repeat aloud
what we should have suffered in silence.
it is for education, and understanding,
for a new generation’s mercy.
but i don’t care.
i just want to burn
this entire place
down to the motherfucking ground.
I went to Auschwitz when I was 13 for March of the Living. Reading this brought back SO MANY feelings. I have to be at a Happy Hour in 30 minutes and my face is so puffy. I miss my Bubbe’