Just the two of us in the chaos
of ghetto round-ups. Zofia and Wanda,
Wanda and Zofia, begging parents
for the children, catching them as they
were thrown. Every day, we came
here for the children. Umshlagplatz.
A quarter million deported, ripped out
of the heart of Warsaw. We had many
names, changed as often where we slept.
Veronika, they called me. Alicia, they called
Wanda. Also, another, Irena Sendlerowa—
the Gestapo broke her legs, her feet, every
bone. She never talked, never healed.
We found other tiny ones starving,
hiding in the ruins. Put them in carts,
covered them, pushed past guards,
our eyes straight ahead beyond ghetto
walls, out of starvation to the other side.
Christians, Socialists, Jews. Only a few
joined us to help. We called it Council
for Aid to Jews. Finally just Zegota.
Money by courier. Medicine, forged
papers parachuted like manna from heaven.
Feeding, saving anyone we could.
We, too, were betrayed, sent to Auschwitz;
the others shot. We tried to return.
Our country did not want us. Threats.
Interrogations. Forced into a life in exile.
Finally, a place for us. Yadvashem. Trees—
carob. pine, olive—each leaf a memory.
Light glimmers along a scented path
with our names—Zofia, Wanda. Zegota.
Davi Walders developed and directs the Vital Signs Writing Project for patients and families at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and performs her Jewish-themed work nationally.