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Spirit

The young girl bore many scars.
All across her face and back,
From cuts as deep as the hatred inflicting them.

The young girl's eyes were dark,
Darker than the blackest midnight,
As dark as our captors' hearts.

She had been struck dumb,
Dumb with the jeers, the insults,
The cruelty shown her by her fellow humans.

The girl knew nothing of kindness,
Knew nothing of love,
Knew nothing beyond the barbed wire.

Yet, this child,
Physically broken and battered,
Possessed a quiet sort of dignity.

It seemed rather odd to me,
And to all of the prisoners,
That this girl never gave up.

We had all been pushed to the breaking point,
Some beyond,
And yet this girl never shed a tear.

She never resisted when the Kapo's sturdy whip,
Covered with the dried blood of undesirables,
Sang across her spine and relentlessly cut into her skin.

She almost always gave up her supper,
A cold bowl of soup and half a piece of stale bread,
To some soul whom she sensed needed it more.

The girl was a shining light for us all,
For she kept her spirit up until that fateful day,
The day she heard the sound she had dreaded to hear.

Not a single teardrop splashed from her eyes,
And not a single word passed her blue lips,
As she was marched through the snow and mud.

The girl was not even shivering,
And I realized that if she had shivered,
The SS would believe her to be afraid.

The child kept her head high,
Eyes straight forward,
And allowed herself to be led into a building.

I thought that was it, but to my surprise,
She suddenly stopped in her tracks,
And turned around to face us.

The girl never dropped her incredibly calm demeanor,
but as her eyes swept over everybody,
I was close enough to hear a shaking little voice.

A childish voice, yes, but also deadly mature,
She said three words,
"Goodbye, my friends."

With that, the Kapo grasped her by the neck,
And roughly shoved her through the open door,
And we knew that we'd never see her again.

Many years have since passed,
And as I reflect on it,
I remember that little girl and her large spirit.

That spirit did not die with her,
As it settled in us all,
And gave us the will to live and the courage to survive.

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Katie Malone dedicates this poem to the spirit of every victim of the Holocaust.  “May God bless them.”