Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Laure-Anne Bosselaar: The Pallor of Survival

                  I’m lucky: autumn is flawless today, 

sidewalks freckled rust and red, and the sun 

gentle. I’ll take the back streets to the bookstore – 

it’s a longer ride – but I avoid  the street where 

St. John the Evangelist Church faces that seedy building 

with a sign flashing 

                               Jews for Jesus

.

            I don’t know what happened to Judith Aaron, 

placed in 1945 at the Mater Immaculata convent 

in Brussels, after she was repatriated from Bergen-Belzen. 

Judith who waited eleven years for some — any — next of kin 

to claim her. No one ever came to the black and brass door. 

.

            And we never saw her again after 

she turned eighteen and left that very morning, still 

wearing the convent uniform, but the blouse open 

three buttons down and the socks low on her white ankles.  

She left on a sleety October day, years after —

from under a bed in the infirmary — I’d seen 

.

            what the nuns did to her 

when she confessed she had touched herself:  

bending her over, pulling down her panties to 

ram the longest part of an ivory crucifix into her, 

hissing: HE is the Only One Who Can Come 

Inside You — No One Else— You Hear?

.

            She didn’t let out a sound, not a sigh: 

the pallor of survival carved into her face 

when she pulled her panties up again. 

.

I think she made it: she was of the stone 

statues are made from.  And yet, I still search — 

Judith, I can’t stop searching for signs we made it, 

you, me and the others, 

signs I find in the smallest things: 

a flawless sky, a leaf autumn 

turns, an open gate.


Copyright 2018 Laure-Anne Bosselaar

5 comments on “Laure-Anne Bosselaar: The Pallor of Survival

  1. Relax...
    December 3, 2018

    Does anyone actually believe this?

    Like

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