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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Sept 24

September 25, 2019

Zorida Mohammed

Crossing the German Border


Crossing the German border back into Denmark,
a very modest, rustic monument caught our eye.
Four narrow boards, the color of barn siding, about 4 or 5 feet tall,
each bearing the name of a concentration camp,
stood next to each other on a platform.

Dachau was the easiest to remember.
The other 3 names were long and complicated
and I did not write them down, I’m sorry to say.

The Danes were observing the anniversary 
and had placed wreaths and flowers at the base of the boards.
I stood for a picture on the platform
that I later realized had been one of the train stations 
where Jewish citizens were collected.
My sister-in-law’s voice fell low 
when she mentioned that the Danes were also complicit.

I wanted the camera to capture
an emaciated body
leaning a bit to one side from hunger.
I held my own hands to remain steady.

Who was I to stand in the presence of such 
unfathomable innocence and guilt?
My tears could not find their way out.

As I was stepping down from the platform,
a shiny clean train
that knew nothing about Dachau
or of concentration camps
went almost silently by.

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