WALKING STONES

Innocent souls escaped from chimney's flow
have reached a place beyond Orion's glow
and are transmuted into stone.

Called back to earth, these boulders
travel through burning air,
cooled by trapped tears shed long ago.

On return, they find each other,
to form a earthly congregation.
With each stone supporting another they begin to walk,
lock step across Polish soil.

At a deserted shore of a Carpathian lake
they listen to remembered bird song ,
and taste on their cracked hard skins
light reflected from water, earth, clouds.
At night as mist diffuses in their midst
they assume strange human shapes,
triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets
connected to each other at buttocks, shoulders, or backs.
They speak of how to release their pain,
pain which makes arms and legs ache
pulls, no pushes on skin,
shakes the body, influenza of the brain.

The granite faction insist they visit the camps.
At Auschwitz and Treblinka, they are joined
by ash of Jewish children compressed to stone.

They find bales of women's hair - black, brown, gray,
barrels filled with eye glasses for the dead to see,
shaving brushes for men, combs to comb children's hair,
pails filled with gold extracted from yellowed teeth,
boxes full of bracelets, watches, wedding rings, pins,
and diamonds dipped in blood, on purple velvet laid.
They walk on, hoping, not finding.

- Bernard Otterman