The crunch of your boots sends my sister quaking in fear.
I hate you,
But I am grateful you drained her of tears.
Water is precious.
You made me a monster.
God, how awful am I for thanking you as
YOU STRIP US OF HUMANITY.
I need control.
You’ll use anything against me, I need control.
Crunch, quiver, back, forth.
Breathe in, breathe out.
My sister shakes as one cursed tear pulls the filth of my cheek.
We are standing still, us Jewish swine.
Water is precious, I tell myself.
The same thing I told myself when the gloved hand gestured once to the left and once to the right.
I never saw Mother again.
The same, same thing I put on repeat when I received my job assignment.
I did see my mother again.
I sent her up to heaven as smoke belching out of the chimney and wafting away, away, away.
My sister lost her sense of smell first; I was three days later, but not before we had her ash fill our lungs.
When I cried, my sister repeated my chorus.
“Water is precious.
You cannot cry.”
She’ll never know what I did; I’ll never say it.
Winter came, then spring, but the leaves stayed brown.
We thought the grass would come again, but it stayed trampled as dirt beneath our feet.
That’s all we see- brown, darker brown, darkest brown, nearly black.
And a bright, glaring white set off by the mountains of ragged gray stripes.
I still see yellow every day.
I hate yellow, even though it was the color of my house, my dog, my hair that was thrown into a pile of brown on the floor.
Yellow dances on white walls.
None of us cry,
We know water is precious.
And we know the heat of the ovens takes enough away.
Everything is taken away.
As the boots crunch, more men come with hair like mine used to be.
And as the boots crunch, more women disappear, to go away, away, away and fly to God.
My sister cannot be taken away.
They took away our beds.
Bigger planks, to connect the frames, and people crowded in.
We squeeze, squeeze until no one else can fit and then we fit one more.
We do not complain, my sister and I.
We are veterans; we know that complaining gets you beaten and bloody.
Even dark, red, thick water is precious.
March, march, march.
Everywhere we go, we march.
Straight lines, head down, back and forth, to work, to eat, to bed.
There is no home.
There is no rest.
Your rough hand grabs my shoulder.
The other, it grabs my sister.
“We’re going to march,” you say,
“You need a shower.”
It’s a lie. I know where they are taking us, me.
It is useless to lie to me.
DO NOT LIE TO ME!
I know what room we’ll enter.
The room with yellow shadows dancing on white walls.
I grab my sister’s hand.
Who cares if you beat me?
Why must I suppress my tears any longer?
I step into the darkness.
A familiar hiss.
My water, my blood, sweat, my tears.
It doesn’t matter. Nothing is precious.
I close my eyes and waft away, away, away, flying to God, holding my sister’s hand.
The crunch of your boots sent my sister quaking in fear.
I hate you,
But at least now I’m free.