(The first chapter of a Holocaust memoir)
I begin with that overcrowded single bed,
my home in the winter of ‘44/45
when public affairs assumed a dismaying mask
and the threat of panic was graver even than death.
It wasn’t very wide and it lacked a headboard,
its pillows were soaked in moisture from the wall
inside the entrance of the air-raid shelter
beneath a Nazi Arrowcross Party centre.
I shared that bed through the siege of Budapest
with Irene, my mother, and my two big brothers,
one just 11, the other turning 15,
a Jewish family petrified in hiding.
A word for genocide had not been invented.
My dysentery was beyond control. Its stench
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