They came for us in
in the day-time, though it
might as well have been
night, in yellow uniforms
blinding as the sun,
three soldiers on horseback
pulling a machine gun behind,
house to house they went in no
time and down to the Dniepr they
took us, where the river glinted
silver for the last time and
the earth opened wide, swallowing
the Jews of Kholmech one whole
shtetl at a time.

Only the story of Fishkin
survived across time, how he
returned to the village and came
upon the scene, how he joined
his family, though he didn’t look
Jewish and might have escaped. Perhaps
it happened too quickly, leaving
no time to wonder, for Holocausts
come uninvited, and always
at the wrong time.

Belarus, August 1941/
February 21, 2002

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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