I miss you God
who stands far away
And in the evening air, in the evening
I want to burn myself out,
Like you are burning out.
I want to settle into the sun,
As you settle down.
I want to plunge my head into wet ferns.
I want to blend into the color of the leaves
like a moth or a ladybug.
I want to fall asleep, fall asleep in the shade
Of quiet, feeling peace circulating
In the veins as in the roots.
But you are so far away, and in the desert. I have lost
All my paths, wandering in the sand’s whiteness.
God! What have you done to me—
What have you done to me?
If you can, take this cup from me.
My dear dead,
my dear living—
In longings and strange dreams—
They haunt me in crowds.
My heart in vain wants to understand
That you all still exist,
That you are happy already,
And others, somewhere in the distance,
Are fighting for existence.
And maybe they miss now,
Or maybe they think of now.
At least they did not want to die so badly.
They are gone and will not come back,
Entangled in shadows—
My living and dead—both
Just as lost, just as unreachable, ghostly.
Who knows if I will come back
To the dead or the living?
Who knows which ones I will see first?
Just grit the teeth, just clench the fists
Just don’t think constantly about the day’s everyday dirt.
About the fact the suffering body weakens more and more.
About how very angry people are.
About hunger and cold, about lice since there’s no soap.
And that we are being beaten by the mean guard-whores.
That cabbage with water has entirely repulsed us.
And about those bickering over more.
And about the fact that guards will rush us to work on Sunday.
About the fact that the hospital has no medicine for the sick.
That there are so many rumors. So little truth.
That the fifth winter is coming.
Just grit the teeth, and don’t get lost.
Don’t get lost in this sea of hate.
Don’t give into longing, so the heart
Doesn’t follow the trail of the last fallen leaves.
my country and you,
Miss the rustle of old trees in the park,
I miss the house near the linden trees
With the jasmine bush blooming in front.
I long for that sad birch on the hill
That still rustles its green leaves,
The meadow, cornflower in the grain.
The wind that caressed my face.
Singing birds, the smell of the lime tree
On a hot summer afternoon,
And under the roof the swallow
That has made a miraculous nest of clay.
The mysterious darkness of the forest,
Its damp depth, a veil of moss,
A white lily-of-the-valley by the stream
In the sunshine. Flowers in a glade.
I want to see the morning’s golden aurora,
And four beautiful black horses,
Which plow the earth in dawn’s light,
And the shepherd chasing a herd by the path.
I want to come back from work
In the evening, worry over black bread,
Endeavor to follow the everyday road,
Deal with everyday troubles.
I miss the moonlit night
That promised us so much,
The fragrant one, the May one
Which has already taken my heart.
I miss my book by the chimney,
The rain singing against the windows,
And you playing the piano—
Somehow sweet, somehow tender.
I miss, oh, I miss that cottage.
I burn—so brutal, my heart aches.
Life is hard outside these bars,
But life is hard and barren in this prison.
Weary of the road, we stood
Five by five, and stretched
Into one long row,
And I dreamed of resting
In a quiet harbor somewhere on the shore.
More and more women disappeared
Behind the bathroom door.
I imagined a bath, alone time
At the end of this tormented day.
It was my group’s turn. We went in.
A voice screamed, Hurry! Hurry!
And shameless strange hands
Began tearing off our clothes.
Many women: mature, proud, and old,
Shapeless bodies. Crippled and sick.
A proper lady. A little girl held
Her mother’s hand until she was forced
To let go. All exposed to rape
By a modern man. He was called
Doctor. He was the master here.
Narrow mocking eyes that pretended
This was a medical examination.
He sat down. In front of him stood a row
Of naked women. He began to laugh.
He asked, What did you know?
Standing naked, you had to give him a statement
What did you do? he asked.
Here in this camp, violence broke
Me, crushed me—
First, bared our bodies,
Then it reached for our souls.
They gave us prison clothes.
I entered this suffering as a human being.
I left as a number, a thing.
I know you’re thinking about me again
I know you’re thinking about me again,
And today it hurts me that your thoughts
Flutter towards me like a sail.
The winter day emerges in this small
Piece of heaven, the sand so gray, the sky so bare.
Today, my body—not strange, inert, or animal—
Senses your thoughts circling in space,
Tugging at me like someone’s careless hands.
Today, don’t think about me in the lush greenery.
Let your world grab you and carry you away
With the flow. I’m only a shadow you must not darken.
I’m just a stone, a heavy ballast.
Throw it overboard and raise the anchor.
Time passes impatiently, and you keep
Bending down, still in that one distant moment,
When I left into the winter evening street.
Dear, don't think anymore. I’ve made you sad too long.
Smile and leave the shadows, let them grieve.
Like in nature, it’s hard. Not all swallows
Return to the nest. What will happen tomorrow
Is unknown, but the day will carry a burden of tears.
Your long waiting hurts me. So please,
Do not wait anymore. Please,
Don’t wait anymore.
To the sisters in the rewir1
We can see your pale faces through the windows.
Sometimes someone’s hand will send us a signal,
Some kind of silent sign or greeting,
Sometimes a page slips through a gap in the window.
And every day in hope and fear we ask,
Who’s in the camp hospital? What do they feel?
Are they suffering? Are they wasting away?
And (God Almighty!) is anyone missing?
Weeks and months pass. More and more
Victims go under the executioner’s knife.
There is an unheard-of crime in the history of this world,
And bloody syllables write your names’ glory.
And when I think about your hard misfortune,
About your poor legs,2 your terrible wounds, about those
Who’ve died and won’t come back to us, a shudder
Of pain and anger seizes my heart.
1. Rewir—the camp hospital.
2. “Poor legs” refers to the sisters of the poem’s title, nicknamed the Rabbits, a group a women forced to undergo medical experimentation on their legs to test the efficacy of certain drugs, to aid Nazi soldiers in the field. The gruesome experiments caused deformities, life-long pain, and in some cases death. Many prisoners did what they could to help the Rabbits, such as smuggling bread to them or creating handmade gifts from factory scraps.