The beauty of irrelevance
of me with shaved head
and wearing a Kippah
making my passage as a Jew
through “Arbeit Macht Frei.”
The beauty of the erased
years from 1939 to 1945, in a poster
at the entrance where we line up to be grouped,
marked in red with the same brilliance
as my nail polish.
The beauty of the broken
handle of a suitcase belonging
to a survivor, that stays back
in the camp which still overflows
with new arrivals like me every day.
The beauty of the distended
white skirt of our guide
who stuffs our sad hunger with statistics,
leaning against the bluster of a brick building
with Goebbels’ words at its entrance.
The beauty of fading
stripes on the shirts of prisoners in the photographs lined along
the hall way, similar to the strips on my shirt,
which feels as long and stretched as the prayer
shawls hung in the first room we cram into.
The beauty of the dark
inside of a large glass container
in the second building,
holding dense human ash like mud,
against which a boy rubs his little white face.
The beauty of the smudged
words on a letter in the third building,
never sent, but read numerous times
by strangers like me, who try so hard
to decipher “love” scribbled in Yiddish.
The beauty of an absent
stare, pinned on a pile
of eyeglasses in the fourth building,
which resembles a woman with lush black hair
and piercing eyes.
The beauty of a toothless
comb, holding to brown bent teeth
of other combs around it on which has fallen
the shadow of a woman’s hair.
The beauty of a few fallen
crutches, which together,
make a track that leads my steps
to a mound of worn-out shoes
as tall as me.
The beauty of the threadbare
fabric of a little girl clothing in the fifth building,
which recalls the barbed wire fabric of the camp,
with small roses and a butterfly
that still resist being snipped and unwinged.
The beauty of the ruthlessness
of a smooth and blazing blue sky
gnawing my eyes as we exit
the building and head towards the courtyard
to visit the grainy and grey “Wall of Death.”
The beauty of emptiness
hidden within cement walls
of solitary cells in the basement where we go next,
and where we are not allowed to capture
in snapshots to take home with us.
The beauty of abrasive
ovens in the last building, now cold
as the bulging blue eyes of a doll
with broken torso, whom I say goodbye to
before heading to Birkenau.
The beauty of dryness
of the still-green blades
of July’s grass under our stump
in the vastness of Birkenau, advancing
along the incessant rail tracks.
The beauty of the startled
sunlight which scurries in
like mice towards the bunk beds
where hay is lying today,
as we enter the barracks.
The beauty of a cluttered
pit of concrete, rubble, and dust
with deep and twisted iron roots,
going down to the heart of the earth
in the place of sky-high columns of smoke.
The beauty of my brittle
nails under the red polish scratching barbed wire,
that matches the brittleness
of a heart made by stones
on a symbolic grave for grave-less folks.
The beauty of me, an Iranian atheist,
who, following an Islamic tradition,
while reading the Koranic verse,
knocks on the grave with one of the stones
to present Jewish souls as witnesses before Allah.
The beauty of my irrelevancy—
my shaved head, my Kippah,
my stripped shirt, my brittle nails,
my brilliantly red nail polish;
the beauty of irrelevance
of a so called Muslim’s Exodus .
July 22, 2012
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