Voted best poem by readers of issue one:

Cathy Bolton

Easter Sunday, Auschwitz

give praise, celebrate:
a jew risen from the dead

women and children queue
outside each beckoning church
baskets of eggs and bursting daffodils
light up Krakow’s cobbled streets

but we take the train to Oswiecim,
rip the dirty word from a pocket book
to wave at the ticket man,
exchange our money for a narrow smile

the town is closed, we make
discreet enquiries, seek out
the main attractions

we are not alone:
in the human oven
Sarah, a lesbian not a jew,
has lit a candle, signed a prayer
for all persecuted people,
for a friend in Kentucky
who’s afraid of queues

a house of death, we’ve been warned:
perpetual winter, stuck clock,
lung that won’t fill, monochrome,
dumb graves

we try to mask our disappointment – 
birds do sing and the poplars
are sticky with new life, spring
has clawed its way back

up through the stink of burning flesh
through the screams of wide-eyed children,
it’s flowering now between the tracks
threatening to derail the trains
that haunt this dead-end line

and there’s more
poodles, lovers, kids on bikes:
a regular snday picnic
where the bodies were piled;
sticks drying for the fire

walking back to the station
we puzzle this lack of shame,
yet who could live in such a town
and not eat ice-cream in the street,
let chickens hoe neat rows of potatoes

this is no place for heroes
amongst hard faced strangers,
they should be home with friends
feeding ducks in St. James’ Park
frying felafel in Tel Aviv
planting sunflowers in Kentucky

give praise, celebrate:
so many jews rising from the dead

© Cathy Bolton, 2000

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