Chapter VI Ė J




By Masha Shtuker Paiuk



A poem in lament of my town Kartuz Bereza


On seas, and earth, at night and by day,

An emissary wind runs toward me,

Bringing a page, a single line,

On smoky wings, black news.


Of my city only destruction and suffering,

This occupies one single line,

With letters of blood were for ever written:

In Kartuz Bereze already nobody is!



In spring, florid with white and aromatic flowers,

Your warm and vigorous youth,

Where is it? Where is it?

All, all, big, small and young,

To all, who swallowed them?

The river?

The river that hardly moved its waters,

As celestial tape to the town adorned,

In their banks small flowers don't forget,

And the green grasses covered everywhere,

Leafy branches as protective arms,

They covered with shade afternoons of heat.


The river that was never torrential

Where my ancestors refreshed,

Where families enjoyed,

It never rebelled, it only cleaned

The powder offatigue.

And in months of winter, frozen missed,

To allow to break its hard shell

Of ice, and when summer just arrived,

How many mischiefs have been done?


The river, the laugh shared slipping with everybody,

Flailing still to both sides.

As a good grandfather that letís you climb,

And small children played,

Sprinkling their face with tender hands,

But he winked at them with his eyes.


The river always embedded with its

Sweet waters the whole town

And suddenly, from the bank it left, is it truth?

A beast rushes on you,

To all it caught, I cannot believe it, I cannot believe it!


Tell me river who are you,

Where are they, where?

I will swallow the curses to my town

And my mouth will stop your waters eternally,

That they don't flow, that they don't run,

Don't have infantile waves,

Your waters should dry off in a marshy well!


The river knelt down, its head bent over,

Watered with tears their innocent eyes:

Not me, if was me, that my waters dry off!

They swam in my current,

Numerous, sometimes few, toward other banks,

And I offered them my arms

I wanted to retain them with life until...



Your wave, your radiant youth, where is it, where it is?

Maybe in the forest with currants and mushrooms?

So many generations know your trees,

How proud we were of you,

Beautiful Bereza!

Because you have taken roots in our heart!

He caressed couples with love

In spring afternoons and summer

It brought them closer to their chest, it wrapped in their shades,

Their dreams knitted, their nostalgias silenced.



You maybe offered your branches and arms

For forks and logs and to all you mutilate!

Did it maybe happen there this way, small forest

Where the children played in Lag Baomer,

You were in my memory like the first lover,

Tell me where have you gone!

I won't forgive, I won't forgive,

I will blow the sparks of vengeance; I will transform them into flames,

And I will burn as you to us,

Their roots and branches.


The old and leafy forest trembles:

No! No!

I hid them in my depths,

Among the thickness of my entangled branches,

And order to the leaves: remain silent! silence!

Cover them from the airplanes of death,

That neither the sky discovers them.

I covered them, planning to save them, until....



Your wild white florid field, where is it, where is it?

Maybe the good earth, faithful and fruitful,

That nurtured with best things to so many families!

An orchard and a garden all had

Vegetables and fruits in homes all ate.

And behind the town, a field

This blessing smiled in each home.

Blessed the hands, all help

To plow, to sow.

Dad before the sharp plow

His wife and the children throw potatoes,

In right furrows, step by step,

Taking care of distance,

Without twisting the arm.


Mom at home, children arrive from school,

The earth smiles with abundance of happiness,

Happy, radiant, abundant,

And they flourish blue, yellow and green in

Some parts of the field, in each species,

Vegetables, grains with golden spikes,

And they fill barns, for long winters.


Hens cackle happy aloud,

Because there is already a fresh egg for all at home.

Every day some liters of milk the cow gives us,

And a calf every year will come,

There are for Saturdays and some festivity

Also a thread of meat for weekdays

Here and there a flask of clotted milk

Later take away a spoonful of cream,

And then butter, also fresh cheese.

For this whole miracle, thanks to the earth,

That there is not at home a hungry one, G-d!


But suddenly, this blessed earth exploded,

And a deep well opened up,

As an immense and terrible infernal mouth,

And swallowed their children that nurtured in its lap,


I cannot believe that mother earth punishes

This way to their children, she,

That extends her hands,

Faithfully and nurtures them and gives to them eat and drink

And now to sink them all in an abyss

Earth, earth: if for you I am in a duel

That like a flood falls the curses,

For always damned,

That you never produce anything for anybody

The earth shivers and it trembles

Its skin is cut, fever shakes her

No, not me, not me!

Are there witnesses and can they tell

In my deep tunnels, in underground caverns,

This way among my destroyed bowel,

I hugged your siblings and sisters.

To protect life to your dear beings,

But I cannot avoid their death.


The forest howls, the river cries and the earth is with fever:

Nobody listened to the clamor.

In their own blood they drowned their screams,

We are not guilty of their destruction and pain.

Neither fire, neither water, neither earth, neither forest.

Human beasts made this.


The river, the forest, the earth, they are witness,

Eternal witness of millions of lost people...