by Janet R. Kirchheimer (New York, NY)
“I had a dream last night,” my father tells me.
He dreamed the kapos woke him up at four o’clock
in the morning, on Friday, December 23, 1938,
made him strip out of his uniform, made him
wait in line for an SS doctor to examine him
for bruises and frostbite, made him listen to speeches
by the SS warning him to get out of Germany and never
return. They warned him if he didn’t, he’d be sent back to Dachau
and never leave. He dreamed he was assigned a place
in another line, waited to return his uniform and get his own clothes,
shoes and coat, and that the SS drove him to an area about four miles
from the Munich train station, then made him march the rest of the way.
The sky was so black, he couldn’t see the man who gave him a ticket.
It took twelve hours, and he changed trains twice. He had no money,
The train arrived on Shabbos morning, and he didn’t want to see
another person’s face and took the back way home through the fields,
crossing eight railroad tracks, careful not to get caught
in the track switches. His father was the first person to see him
as he opened the shutters he closed each night so no one could throw
rocks into the house. He went through the front gate into the house,
saw his mother had baked challahs, and ate an entire one. He went to sleep
at eleven o’clock in the morning and slept until the next day.
“That’s exactly how it happened,” my father tells me. “That’s how I
Can you believe I still dream about it sixty years later?”
Janet R. Kirchheimer is the author of How to Spot One of Us, poems about her family and the Holocaust. Her recent work has appeared in The Poets Quest for God and is forthcoming in Forgotten Women. Janet is currently producing AFTER, a cinematic film about Holocaust poetry. https://www.facebook.com/AfterAPoetryFilm/