Weekly Poem: ‘Visiting Auschwitz’

BY Tom LeGro  May 21, 2012 at 1:24 PM EST

By Elana Bell

what extra scrap of bread
what glance from a slop-drunk SS

what rage raised the rusted shovel
struck it on the starving ground

until the whistle ended day
what muscle corded in the thighs

not buckling to the bed of lice of bloody flux
what propped her up when her bowels released

the spoiled cabbage soup and she couldn’t hold
her dead-weight head what switched the names

so she was not called what
scarf smuggled from the storage hull

a shred so she could wipe herself
what song muffled in the dark

what glint willed the breath
what saw her and said live

Elana BellElana Bell is the author of “Eyes, Stone” (2012, LSU Press), winner of the Walt Whitman Award for 2011. Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, CALYX, and elsewhere. Bell is the writer-in-residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Listen to Bell read her poem “Your Village” here.