I
My travel agent said,
Why do you want to go there?

II
Silence cracks the world wide open.
A crow shrieks.

III
No one screams in the cement room.
I fix my eye on the door,
remind myself that Zyklon B
is something that happened to somebody else.

IV
I follow tracks to the horizon.
Black sandals leave their mark
In fine gray dust.
Gravel crunches, waking sleeping ghosts.
Three white moths circle my head.

V
In the women’s section, Israeli tourists
enter Barracks 26. One old woman
wanders through rows of wooden bunks,
stops, stares, point…
This was my bed.

VI
At the ruined crematorium our guide
bends to pick up something from the earth.
Open your hand, she says.
What is it?
Bone, she says.
A stone grows in my throat.
After Auschwitz, words, like lungs, collapse.


Linda Ashear