by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

I could have been one of them,
made to stand in an open trench,
hands in the air, too young
to be embarrassed by my nakedness.
I could have been one of them,
made to walk in line
on my way to the showers,
with my mother whispering tensely to me.
I could have been one of them,
made to augment  the round number
of 6 million who were never heard of again.
Yet because of luck and/or God,
I made my way to American shores,
unaware of the horrors I had left behind.
That was my gift outright.
Second-hand survivors’ guilt
flicks at me now like fires from the ovens,
illuminating the ancient question of whether
I am worthy of such largess.

I could have been one of them.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in the YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.

If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit:


Filed under American Jewry, European Jewry, Jewish identity, poetry

2 responses to “Escapee

  1. Any one of us could have been one of them. In a sense, we all were. The horrors of that time should never be relived and never be forgotten. Thanks to wondrously talented people like you, they won’t. God willing.

  2. Mel, this is an absolutely beautiful heart-wrenching piece. You are a wonderful writer. Thanks for sharing this piece with the rest of us.

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