Bird Flying Across the Ocean

Frankel Jewish Academy sophomore Rozie Aronov wrote a poem about a particular Holocaust survivor’s experience escaping a cattle car on the way to the death camps.

Rozie Aronov
Rozie Aronov

In honor of Yom HaShoah, I wrote a poem about a particular Holocaust survivor’s experience escaping a cattle car on the way to the death camps.

This year’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial theme is Deportation to Extinction, and this poem aims to honor the theme and the overall message and meaning that can be taken away from it for all of us as both Jews and human beings. 

Promise to Papa

Out of nowhere came the cattle cars and our place in them as vermin,
All of our futures so unsure, yet death so blatantly determined.
Once the sicknesses of man had come and slaughtered us a few,
A new madness of kine had come to see the butchering through.
Pained by the constant wringing of the rags that were their souls,
Every minute on the railway, a plunge deeper into holes,
But then something unexpected: a hand stretched towards the window frame,
Its fingers clawing at barbed wire, painting it bloodily in shame,
A sight that had to be remembered, but who possibly could live to tell the story?
Perhaps myself, the little boy who could now fly out the window as a lorry;
A creature of color and renewal,
A hope for life that is not cruel.
Lifting a pile of skin and bones, my father hoisted me,
So that I could jump out of the train and grow up with this memory.
I turned to my Papa with frantic eyes for one last look, one last embrace,
But instead he left me with these words shut beside my soul forever in its case:
היהת ןב םדא was the last thing I ever heard my father say,
A precept of three simple words I’ve carried with me since then every day.
My mother’s body who I left right then, met its end in plumes of smoke,
But inside my old, cracking bones sits the gentle, loving way she spoke,
And my אתבס and my אבס, how I wish they hadn’t met such a fate,
But for our encounters in my dreams, at the very least, it’s not too late
And for my beloved father, I now write and think only of you,
I hope you know, in all these years I’ve kept the vow on which I flew. 

Rozie Aronov is sophomore at Frankel Jewish Academy and a graduate of Hillel Day School.

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