Poem: Dancing in Auschwitz

Eva-Isabel-Schottenstein-2By Eva Schottenstein

We are revenge, incarnate
Destined to walk, to listen, to remember, to pass on
We are revenge incarnate

We march, hands intertwined with those of strangers along with brothers
Fingers braided tight as bread, seamlessly converting visitors into natives
Heads held high, along with fists, along with flags
Chanting, stamping, singing, stomping
Shoulders sagging under the weight of a burden called blessing

Looking around, the implausible existence of us glows deep inside of me; pride
Elderly hands clenching youth, seizing vitality
Lifelines deteriorating with age; memories fading, bartered for hollow rage

The air sits heavy in our chests as we take in every breath
Teenagers should never know how it feels to inhale death

We march, listening to words spoken in foreign tongues with a resident message
Our eyes shut tight as we open our mouths wide to cry out the prayers of our people
We sing songs in our ancestors’ language with an identical strain of mourning and celebration coursing through our proudly-pumping veins
Anthems bearing such heavy burdens that our lungs might collapse under their weight

Dust floats into our chests like the synthetic smoke that filled the sky
Together, we stride, linked by arms, and heritage, and tragedy, and history
Flags of every color and country wave in support, in remembrance, in grieving, in appreciation

Tears fall from downcast eyes as the names of fallen children ring in and out of our ears
Our footsteps stain this dirt proudly, boldly declaring retribution
We are still here.

Eva Schottenstein, a 17 year old from Bexley, Ohio, participated in the 2015 March of the Living with the BBYO joint Delegation from Cleveland & Columbus.

Originally published by International March of the Living; reprinted with permission.