The Collegian
Thursday, September 24, 2020

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Life in Verse: The Burning Sun of the Shoah

<p>Graphic by Jackie Llanos</p>

Graphic by Jackie Llanos

Editor's Note: If you would like to submit your poems or prose, send them in a PDF file to Mbrooks@richmond.edu. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.

Introduction

This week I have submitted one of my own poems for two key reasons. One, I am waiting for submissions, and two, to bring light to the genocide that is occurring in China. Last semester, I wrote a poem, “The Burning Sun of the Shoah” to commemorate the lives lost in the holocaust and to remember my Jewish/Polish heritage. Now, nearly 75 years later, the holocaust is repeating itself in Xinjiang. More than one million Uighur Muslims are in detention centers, their heads shaved and their bodies shipped on trains. Let us not forget what happened, to prevent what is happening now. 

“Hatred is the same today as it was yesterday, we can and we must resist it. Taking stock of the past and the repercussions of hatred, history can’t be let to repeat itself.” -- UNESCO

The Burning Sun of the Shoah

I.

It’s late January, the sun drips -melting - burning itself down - deep inside the earth creating a 

physical representation of hell. The cold - crisp - pure whiteness of the snow is instead ablaze 

in reflection - golden flames licking scorching embers like the serpent tongue of Death. All 

around the ground is shrouded - caked - covered in ash like a blanket for the snow. Ash - Ash 

inside the cappings of teeth, Ash among the crevices of worn bones, Ash swimming in lobes of 

lungs, Ash dancing two-step promenades in barracks , Ash seeping inside memories and Ash 

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coating minds is burnt greyness. Ash tauntingly singing “Ash - Burnt Ash - Fire Ash - You soon 

will be Ash - Dead Ash - Auschwitz Ash- Ash on the ground  and Ash all around.”  

II. 

“Workers” slumped home in ash backs - arched - piling over on themselves - rounded out like 

worn gravestones and all around dead walking. The seeping sun - burned the blinding - brutal 

truth of the night in the ash backs- that try as they might when morning came as did the 

collection of  bodies - pulled from the pissed stain, shit sheets. Friends faces unrecognizable - 

worn to the bone - thin flesh pulled over already decaying skulls - all identity stripped and 

anonymity worn in striped rags. In the dewy hours of dawn, the collector would have to search

 the barracks to try to tell the dead from the living. This was never a simple task not because of

 dim lighting, but the mere insufficient difference of the states. 

III.

The brisk chill of the morning brought a breeze from the west and it picked me up 

and swirled me around - I am everywhere - I am free - I am dead-I am Ash.

Contact columnist Megan Brooks at mbrooks@richmond.edu.

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