was a seed that fell into our hungry nights
limbs drained of heat until our pulses beat
only with hate. Our bodies hammered thin,
our children dull-eyed from the lack of work.
It took root as the strangers multiplied,
favoured by tricks we had no way to learn.
Behind closed doors we heard the scrape
of plates, coins, laughter, tuneless songs.
Nowhere to turn, we shrank as blame spread out,
held us against the wall, made us obey.
To put them in their place. To let them know
exactly how we felt. Small. Afraid.
Part of a sequence of poems commissioned to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Listen to River introduce and read the poem.