I woke up in Krakow and quickly showered and dressed.  I felt apprehensive but some things just have to be done.  A quick walk to the bus station where I hoped to grab breakfast was in order.  The next bus to Auschwitz left in 10 minutes.  It was either that or wait a full hour. 


I found myself on the bus.  I gave up my seat so an elderly woman could sit down.  It was a 100 minute bus ride on my feet.  Seemed apropos considering the destination.  Hungry and standing on blistered feet.  


rainfall begins

light drizzle bouncing off

the windows


The bus continued along.  The radio on the bus was playing Foreigner’s song “I Want to Know What Love Is.” I was doubting I’d find out on this venture.  This would be the opposite of love.  But I suppose a little light hearted pop music on the way to a concentration camp isn’t the worst thing.


The tour includes visits to both the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.  You visit the factories where the captive Jews and Gypsies were forced to labor.  They literally worked their fingers to the bone and died.


Walking along the train tracks into Birkenau where the barracks once stood.  Walking along the spot where the cremations of living people took place.  It’s all in ruins and there is now growth of plants and grass. 


unseen birds sing

hopeful, desolate song

overcoming evil.


It was eerie hearing birds singing.  I looked to the trees and looked to the electrical wires above and could not see any birds.  It was suggested it was the song of the innocent victims whose lives were vanquished here.


I felt tired walking along the tracks.  I was moving toward the entrance sign:   Arbeit Macht Frei.  I was tired and hungry but I thought of all those who died only yards from where I walked.  


a muskrat 

sees a tear in my eye 

but no one else did


It’s time to head back to Krakow and have a nice dinner with a couple drinks.  I’ll no doubt be standing on the ride back with my hunger and fatigue growing but I’ll at least recover


still humming

that eerie bird song

stays in my heart




Author's Notes/Comments: 

haibun is a Japanese style that blends prose with haiku and/or poetry.  This is a recent effort based on a visit to Poland in 2006.

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