Uninvited, unasked, unnoticed
By leather and lace,
By sole and tongue,
By eyelet and buckle,
We step into the room-
One by one
Our thoughts take a cold shower.
No cut-price bargains here,
No nice nostalgia,
In this shop window installation
Of quiet horror.
It is not the poems
That follow you out
Down Washington's wealthy sidewalks
It is not the family photos
That dog you, much, much later
Scratching away at your door,
It is a child's sandal, scuffed across the toe,
An old man's surgical boot ingrained with dust,
A dancing girl's high-heels,
A widow's slippers,
Inhuman horrid survival
Of the fittest.
By Sheena Blackhall (born 1947)
Scottish poet, novelist, short story writer, illustrator, story teller and singer
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.
By Primo Michele Levi (1919-1987)
Italian Jewish chemist and writer, Auschwitz survivor
Translated from the Italian by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann