Colors

I thought concentration camps
were black and white and grey.
How else could murder happen
in the 40’s every day?

In nineteen fourty five,
grandfather was outside Dachau’s gate,
it read Arbiet macht frei,
the prisoners fate.

Twenty three years old,
He stood outside the iron rail,
The chains too thick to cut,
A blow torch finally freed the jail.

When the US seventh army, 
Opened up the gates, 
They gave out all their rations, 
But for most it was too late.

A prisoner of war camp,
he had thought at the time,
so why the visible ribs?
The smell of death and grime?

He tells me it was only later,
he learned of ovens in the back.
Where Nazis burned the prisoners,
To make the dead turn black. 


I went to Dachau,
This year in June.
I stood in the gas chamber
Absent of fumes.

I stroked pale green tiles,
Standing under false shower heads.
Outside bright green for spring,
perfect for flower beds.

Puffy white clouds
Sailed overhead
When I stood in the courtyard
Where thousands were shot dead.

As I entered the creamatory,
I heard birds sing,
Just as the condemeed did
When they died every morning.

The smells of death and disease
Had passed overtime.
Dachau now smelled of dirt,
And breeze of springtime.

Gray photographs seperate us,
history books seem like fiction,
but there were smells, color,
a now impossible depiction.


My grandfather remembers 
Arbiet macht frei.
It means “work brings freedom”
The Nazi’s lie.

And he remembers the sounds
of shooting German gaurds,
the touch of prisoners,
the smell of the yards.

So it’s wrong to think the world
was black and white,
for those imprisoned,
Color gave them reason to fight.

-LRose