he will walk in, as you’re sitting down to a meal


The poem below is a ghost poem, to me.  The speaker is at a picnic at home, but he remembers going to camp as a child, and then he remembers the concentration camps of Nazi Germany ( in real life, he was one of the  American soldiers who liberated the prisoners of those camps).And he is haunted.

Even though it’s about another time, I feel that it’s also about what’s going on right now in Syria.



The Book of Yolek             by Anthony Hecht


The dowsed coals fume and hiss after your meal

Of grilled brook trout, and you saunter off for a walk

Down the fern trail. It doesn’t matter where to,

Just so you’re weeks and worlds away from home,

And among midsummer hills have set up camp

In the deep bronze glories of declining day.


You remember, peacefully, an earlier day

In childhood, remember a quite specific meal:

A corn roast and bonfire in summer camp.

That summer you got lost on a Nature Walk;

More than you dared admit, you thought of home:

No one else knows where the mind wanders to.


The fifth of August, 1942.

It was the morning and very hot. It was the day

They came at dawn with rifles to The Home

For Jewish Children, cutting short the meal

Of bread and soup, lining them up to walk

In close formation off to a special camp.


How often you have thought about that camp,

As though in some strange way you were driven to,

And about the children, and how they were made to walk,

Yolek who had bad lungs, who wasn’t a day

Over five years old, commanded to leave his meal

And shamble between armed guards to his long home.


We’re approaching August again. It will drive home

The regulation torments of that camp

Yolek was sent to, his small, unfinished meal,

The electric fences, the numeral tattoo,

The quite extraordinary heat of the day

They all were forced to take that terrible walk.


Whether on a silent, solitary walk

Or among crowds, far off or safe at home,

You will remember, helplessly, that day,

And the smell of smoke, and the loudspeakers of the camp.

Wherever you are, Yolek will be there, too.

His unuttered name will interrupt your meal.


Prepare to receive him in your home some day.

Though they killed him in the camp they sent him to,

He will walk in as you’re sitting down to a meal.















<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ghost/”>Ghost</a&gt;

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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