Guest poem sent in by Hemant R. Mohapatra
(Poem #1034) Pigtail
When all the women in the transport had their heads shaved four workmen with brooms made of birch twigs swept up and gathered up the hair Behind clean glass the stiff hair lies of those suffocated in gas chambers there are pins and side combs in this hair The hair is not shot through with light is not parted by the breeze is not touched by any hand or rain or lips In huge chests clouds of dry hair of those suffocated and a faded plait a pigtail with a ribbon pulled at school by naughty boys.
The Museum, Auschwitz, 1948 (translated by Adam Czerniawski) I have rarely come across a poem that has touched me as closely as the one above. The horrendous vividity in which death has been depicted leaves you gasping for breath. At a first glance, the poet seems to be just a mute onlooker of the tragedy - one who has the maturity to see those bits of pins and ribbons in the dry hair of the dead bodies but not the courage to do anything about it. Slowly, the poem sinks into your system and you realize that a poem of this depth just cannot be penned down without the poet having gone though it him/herself. The last few tender lines leave the reader with a sense of utter sadness. The poet seems to have deliberately ended the poem at a point where the reader was just beginning to connect to it (perhaps) to deny the readers the right to prod more into the lives of the victims. Was he remorseful? Or angry? I would have called it a deliciously bitter end had it not been such a respectfully sad one!! Sometimes I wish we had a way of giving some poems a standing applause on emails. Hemant Links: Some more of Rozewicz's poems: [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/Paris/6170/poetfeat2.html The current theme: Unusual perspectives on war Poem #1033, Bret Harte, "What the Bullet Sang" Biography: Tadeusz Rozewicz (1921- ) is a well-respected Polish poet, playwright, and novelist known for his "naked poetry." Rozewicz served in World War II with the underground Home Army. Following the war, he became an influential poet, much revered by later generations of Polish writers. His work has focused on several major themes, including the question of whether art is even possible after the horrors of World War II.