from Issue #3: Poetry by Mira Peck

Photo (CC) grendelkhan @ Flickr

Photo (CC) grendelkhan @ Flickr

*

Halina

She was nine years old and eighty pounds
When the Nazi officer stormed her Poznan home
Barking, Raus, raus, while his men sang
German army songs and carried away her antique bed,
Piano, stamp collection and favourite doll.

At ten years and eighty pounds
She was locked within ghetto walls
In an airless dungeon for sixteen hours each day
Breathing leather tanning fumes
Her skin one spectral sore.

At twelve years and eighty pounds
The cattle train rumbled under her feet
For three days on the way to the Birkenau swamp.
Schnell, schnell, the armed soldiers urged,
Shaving heads, searching mouths and fingers for gold.

At thirteen and eighty pounds
A windowless convoy delivered her to the Baltic Sea.
She watched the Camp Stutthof commandant play
Beyond barbed wire with his toddler and pet dog
Then publically hang young Russian boys.

She was fourteen and eighty pounds
When the guard caught her speaking
And beat her with a whistling oak branch
Until the sand beneath her turned red.

.

Take a look at her smiling face.
Walk through her garden of golden wattles.
Hear the warbling of crimson rosellas.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Mira Peck is an author of poetry and prose that blend her interests in science, art, family and justice. Her inspiration comes from a wide range of experiences, including the fields of chemical engineering, business, music and law; living in Poland, Australia and the USA; and hitch-hiking across Asia and Europe. During her twenty years of creative writing she has edited and published a quarterly newsletter, arranged literary workshops and public readings, and coordinated local critiquing chapters. Her multi-genre collection, Sour Cherry Tree, was published in 2012. She received the annual Goldfinch Prize for prose in 2010 and for poetry in 2011. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children and travels widely.

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