Richard Wollman’s fiercely affecting “Paper in Autumn” resurrects one family from the fire of the Holocaust. (New Pages, March 2005)
Paper in Autumn
Each time the brigands arrived to herd them
onto the airless trains,
to Terezin, Zilina, finally to Poland,
Armin fled to the grove.
he met that woman from Trencin
who gave him a beautiful boy.
Then the wood lost its hold on him,
his anonymity gone,
the trees turned to paper, yellowing
before his eyes,
all of them inscribed with his name, rooted
in the certainty of the earth.
to rub the sweet, dark dirt on his skin.
Our family was fed to an open fire.
Armin left the grove in autumn
to join the transport with his wife and child:
the sweet smell of her skin captured him,
the boy's soft hair.
I tell you, he was the only one whose death
was not witnessed.
We wait for news. No one believed
the flames would reach him.
Nothing was written.
from New England Review, Vol. 25, #4.