Bodies – reflection on image taken from Auschwitz

This is an image of a bonfire similar to the bonfire pictured in the poem.

What am I doing with my body?

By Skylar McVicar

Looking at that picture

I feel sick

I feel nauseous 

I wish I hadn’t seen it

I quickly turn away

Glad I could ignore it, forget it maybe

Never going to forget it really

My stomach is turning

So many bodies

So many limp bodies

So many limp, cold bodies

So many limp, cold, sad bodies

So many limp, cold, sad, ignored, beaten, deceived, disrespected, hopeless, dead

Dead bodies

The fire will warm them up

Fire is good, fire gives heat, heat gives health, heat makes food, food gives health

Good fire

Wait

Bodies by the fire

Dead bodies by the fire

Limp, cold, sad, ignored, beaten, deceived, disrespected, hopeless, dead bodies

By the fire

In the fire

In the fire

No

I can’t look

Turn back around

Turn your strong, warm, fed, healthy body back around

Don’t look

In the fire

The bodies are in the fire

Feeding the fire

Fueling the fire

The fire survives

The bodies don’t

The fire gets stronger

Remains strong

Because my body is turned

I am ignoring it

But by ignoring it, I am feeding the fire

Fueling the fire

My Jewish body is still fueling the fire

No

Turn your strong, warm, fed, healthy body back around

Toward the picture

Look at it

Feel sick

Feel nauseous

It is a blessing to have these feelings 

To be alive and have these feelings

Use these feelings

It is time to fuel a different fire with my strong, warm, fed, healthy body

*This image was first seen in Auschwitz and is analyzed in my research paper

This is a picture of the photograph at Auschwitz-Birkenau inspiring my poem.
Cremation of corpses at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This photograph was taken clandestinely by prisoners in the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
*I took this photo while at Auschwitz

Cremation of corpses at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This photograph was taken clandestinely by prisoners in the Sonderkommando. Poland, summer 1944. Provided by USHMM Photo Archives

 “CREMATION OF CORPSES AT AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed April 1, 2020. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/photo/cremation-of-corpses-at-auschwitz-birkenau.

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