110,000 Pairs of Shoes, a poem by Aurora Kastanias at Spillwords.com
Frederick Wallace

110,000 Pairs of Shoes

110,000 Pairs of Shoes

written by: Aurora Kastanias


Remember when we used to play
Amidst brick and wooden barracks,
Twenty-eight blocks surrounded by barbed wire,
Six towers, drawing images on silver sands

Made of ashes raining over us
Erecting later nightmares, grey
As the sky-obfuscating fumes, sun-stealers
Bore by humming chimneys.

Freezing cold on early mornings
We used to align in rows of ten,
The roll call was painful and endless
Yet each day shorter than the previous,

Friends disappeared
Into scents of crackling skins,
We counted our bones, and the missing ones,
Eleven hours of labour dreaming a great feast,

Dreading lunch, the obnoxious taste of rutabaga soup.

A piece of black bread for dinner
We returned to our room, undressed
Naked shivered queuing to the bathhouse, washed,
Rejoined the rats and lice sleeping in our beds.

Remember when the Nazi fled,
Took many of us on a death march to the West,
Great tanks liberated the camp,
The Russians told us we were free.

We were 232,000 when the game began,
We were 700 when the Red Army ended it.

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