I wrote this poem about the Holocaust after visiting the Auschwitz Death Camp in Poland
With a velvet collar that tickled my throat.
And fur-lined boots of the finest leather
To keep me warm in winter's weather.
There was a time a grand house was home
And through the flowers, I liked to roam.
And on the manicured lawn I would lay
With my school friends who had come to play.
There was a time I had a big brass bed
With soft feather pillows to cushion my head.
And under a downy quilt, I soundly slept
As angels on their tiptoes crept.
There was a time I did well at school
When my future shone like a brilliant jewel.
Mama and Papa took my brother and me
On summer vacations for two weeks or three.
There was a time I laughed and danced
Boys from the town were quite entranced
By my elegant gowns of silk and lace
And golden curls that framed my face.
There was a time I had nothing to fear
No ghouls or ghosts ever came near
Sitting upright at the baby grand
I played the keys with a delicate hand.
There was a time I sat down for a meal
Of new potatoes and crisp roast veal
Mama watched making sure that I ate
Encouraging me to finish my plate.
There was a time I sat and spied
Papa telling Mama that we must go hide
She wept as he pleaded in a broken voice
Be brave my darling. We have no choice.
There was a time I packed a small case
And ran with my parents to a hiding place
In a cold damp cellar far below the ground
We huddled and prayed, not to be found.
There was a time I heard the hounds bark
Just above my head down in the dark
Thunderous footsteps followed the scent
As Hitler's disciples made their descent.
There was a time I wore a yellow cloth star
Branding me guilty for what we are
The fate hung heavy over the Jewish race
Etched lines of anguish on Papa's kind face.
There was a time the cane delivered its lash
They stole our belongings, our silver and cash
The synagogue that stood proud in the town
Was wrecked and robbed, burnt to the ground
There was a time I saw my brave Papa refuse
To bow to the Fuhrer, slaughterer of Jews
"Never," he hissed, at the image, he spat
But a fist to his face knocked him down flat.
There was a time we boarded a train
Never to see darling Papa again
Holding on to Mama and my brother for life
We heard Papa beg for his children and wife.
There was a time they shaved my hair
Took my clothes and made me stand bare
They scorched a serial number into my arm
Mama through tears urged me to stay calm.
There was a time fleas bit me to chunks
At night when I wretchedly lay on the bunks
Listening to groans of those so taunted
As the reality of my nightmare haunted.
There was a time Mama went to the shower
I waited for her for more than an hour.
As black smoke funnelled its way to the sky
I knew she had been sent in there to die.
There was a time I cried a hot river of tears
Alone amongst masses, I realised my fears
Made to sift through the dead ones' things
For diamonds and gold, I saw Mama's rings.
There was a time I hated more than I loved
Despising the pigs who callously shoved
A tangle of bodies into shallow mass graves
Upstanding once - and now lifeless slaves.
There was a time I looked for my brother
I searched scrawny faces one after the other
Realising that he too was cruelly gone
I hardened my heart and just plodded on.
There was a time I would kill for some bread
Then changed my mind and wished myself dead
But I woke up each day clinging to life
Though each bodily sinew cut like a knife.
There was a time I refused to pray
To a God that treated Jews this way
I shook my fist up towards the sky
And asked over and over, "why, why, why?"
There was a time I felt only numb
Too feeble to fight whatever would come
The strength to smile I would not regain
Knowing that Mama and Papa were slain.
There was a time I thought would not arrive
When a young Russian soldier rescued me alive
I drank from the tears that fell from his face
As he lifted me out of that horrendous place.