“Filling In” and “The Poet of Auschwitz”

Creative Commons Attribution—Le Priyavrat.
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Temima Weissmann

“Filling In”

We heard only fragments
on Simchas Torah morning

as words carried themselves
like ashes
across the dark roads
of silent cities.

Suddenly we were back in 1938
standing in line at a newspaper stand,
reading over the shoulder of the
man before us,
his hat
blocking the beginning of the headline.

And we were left
filling in what we could not
begin to understand.

“The Poet of Auschwitz”

I often imagine
there was a poet of Auschwitz
who came up with a far better word
to describe the
of the metal sign that greeted him
than we could ever muster.

Who fought only with the
soft scratch of lead
against a scrap of paper,

and when he ran out of paper,
his leather belt,

and when he ran out of leather,
he would curl his words out of
the long strand
of a
potato peel.

And when it was time to die,
he must have stood under the cloudiest of skies,
with all of his papers and words
hidden under his clothes,
under his skin,
jutting into the
crevices between his ribs,

the word
for the moment
a candle is about to extinguish,
to the tip of his tongue.

Temima Weissmann, from Passaic NJ, is a junior at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School. She enjoys turning life’s unique moments into stories and poetry.