“My father looked around him and cursed and spoke of the war, of society, of the misery that would have become even greater, of the hatred, and of the fact that nothing was worth anything because everything would be destroyed. He said that it was all useless, and he laughed nervously and looked at my mother, asking her if perhaps she expected her Messiah to save us.” Edith Bruck (from Chi ti ama così, Marsiglio Editore, 1974)

The poem is dedicated to Edith Bruck’s mother, whom she lost in the gas chambers in Auschwitz.

#lestweforget #holocaust #peace

Quel pensiero

Edith Bruck


Quel pensiero di seppellirti
te l’hanno tolto con almeno trent’anni di anticipo!
Abbiamo avuto una lunga festa d’addio
nei vagoni stivati dove si pregava dove si facevano
i bisogni in fila dentro un secchio
che non profumava del tuo lillà di maggio
e anche il mio Dio Sole ha chiuso gli occhi
in quel luogo di arrivo il cui nome
oggi irrita le coscienze, dove io e te
rimaste sole dopo una selezione
mi desti la prova d’amore
sfidando i colpi di una belva umana
anche tu madre leonessa a carponi
per supplicare iddio maligno di lasciarti almeno l’ultima
la più piccola dei tuoi tanti figli.
Senza sapere la tua e la mia destinazione
per troppo amore volevi la mia morte
come la tua sotto la doccia
da cui usciva un coro di topi
chiusi in trappola.
Hai pensato alla tua piccola con quel frammento
di coscienza risvegliata dal colpo
del portoncino di ferro
con te dentro mio pane amato mio pane bruciato!
O prima ancora
sapone paralume concime
nelle mani parsimoniose di cittadini
che amano i cani i poeti la musica
la buona letteratura e hanno nostalgia
dei familiari lontani.
That thought

Edith Bruck


That thought of burying yourself
was taken from you at least thirty years too soon!
We had a long farewell party
in the packed boxcars where we prayed where
in a line we relieved ourselves in a bucket
that did not smell of your lilac in May
and even my Sun God closed his eyes
at that place of arrival whose name
today irritates consciences, where I and you
left alone after a selection
you gave me proof of your love
braving the blows of a human beast
even you mother lioness on hands and knees
to beseech malevolent god to let you keep at least your last
the youngest of your many children.
Without knowing your and my destination
for too much love you wanted my death
like yours in the shower
from which came a chorus of mice
caught in a trap.
You thought of your little one with that fragment
of conscience awakened by the crash
of the iron gate
with you inside my beloved bread my burnt bread!
Or earlier still
soap lampshade compost
in the parsimonious hands of citizens
who love dogs poets music
fine literature and long for
their distant relatives.

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2021

Edith Bruck was born in Hungary. After being deported to a Nazi concentration camp as a child, she lived in numerous countries until in 1954 she settled in Rome. There she married Nelo Risi. She is the author of novels, short stories, poetry collections and three films, all written in Italian because, as she stated, in her own languange every word carried an unbearable weight…for example, bread: her mother .


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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