Ravensbrück Love Poem
January 1945 - January 1985Your body was thin as my own,
Your eyes as large. Your eyes
Were my own, were they not?
The lice (rich with our blood)
Fed lovingly, supping on the
Nectars of your heart:
Bloodlust dropping off
On the dusty floors.
Here at the Fountainbleau
Over Martinis and Vienna sausages,
My three partners at patience ---
Mr. Felber, Mrs. Felber, and the widow Wise,
Silver hair and bent by time.
We play another rubber, drink
Sazerac Cocktails, adjourn
To our separate rooms with
Mrs. Wise still has remarkably firm and freckled breasts.
I could love her if I could.
She would not protest.
During the long days I lie
Out in the sand,
In the warm sand.
The sun gave a bleak grey light.
Our knees in the snow were dirty
With blood and gravel in the sun.
Korpsman Würfel lusted after you.
He was good with the truncheon
Knowing just where to kiss the body.
He hissed (a bitter snake)
Hissing that the Juden
Would soon be
Made of smoke.
The Felbers bring me here every winter.
I join them when the days come slow with snow to the north,
Those dark days that bring a shaking,
Something that can't be explained:
It comes with the night and cannot be explained.
What was it Würfel wanted from you?
The hairless head? The black-crossed rags?
Feet coarsened in shredded clogs.
We passed through the smoke
In the north stone quarry and I recall
We hoped he would offer something
For your troubles.
A bit of mutton, a half loaf of sawdust bread.
But you never came back
And I think on you almost every day
Almost every day.
Mr. Felber is talking of gold futures.
He wants me to invest in his club.
I think he drinks too many Sazeracs.
He wants me to go to the steam room with him to talk business.
I don't tell him that I can't go into rooms without windows
Rooms filled with a haze.
He should know that.
Our blockleader spoke of the dead
Murdering the dead,
And my steaming God tears I thought
My God you below his leathern body
That booted jack sticking his death's head
Into the soft life I had kissed once
And so gently.
I dreamed of you last night
The first year
Through the wheatfields
Your black hair streaming
You shrieking with laughter
Your eyes filled with such a merry passion
I think we turned animal
When for the first time
My God you reached into me
Moist on the fields, the sun
Gone yellow and stretching to fall.
Before they took you
I had saved you a present from "Canada"
Some food they brought on the trains
In case they got hungry on their long journey,
And a tiny ring that had been
Hidden in the heel of a woman's black boot.
But they (and you) were passed
Into the sullen sky.
I shit on Würfel's grave.
Dr. Fine says that it is amazing
That I am still so healthy despite
What he calls "the pressures of your life."
I don't tell him about the dreams.
I have not told him that my heart
A field mouse made a home
In the bloody rags of your bunk
A single blossom that the goyim call
"Tears of Our Lord's Blood"
Took root just outside the door.
At sunset, remember? ---
I often shared a few grains
Of barley with bunkmate Hans,
The funny-looking queer from Essen
Who was kind to you,
Who gave you soup when you
Coughed up too much pale blood.
A ladybird lingered (just a moment)
On the single passion flower
That you planted at the door
Before they took you.
There are no snow fields outside
The Hotel Fountainbleau.
But they've planted plastic Easter lilies
In the courtyard. In the card room
Mrs. Felber (hair dyed burnt sienna)
Holds forth on children
That don't remember parents;
She tells us that she is "hard as nails."
I never know if she is speaking of nails
With which you tore your face hoping
He would no longer want you
Or those they used to fix the doors
There where they set the fire
Where you were.
I apologize. I was not there.
I was out among the stones in the north quarry.
Sometimes I can hear the cries late at night
Even when I am alone in my room
In the Fountainbleau
I hear cries.
I must ask Dr. Fine to explain.
I will not think on this
Nor of you
And the time so long ago when the two of us
In the dying sun, your long hair
The two of us at each other's lips
The wind tearing at your long hair,
The wind ravening at your long black hair.--- J. W. Glass