I Remember Coming into Warsaw, a Child 
by Helen Degen Cohen 


—out of a sheer, sunlit countryside, 
where sometimes a goat made the only sound in
all the universe, and a car engine would certainly 
tear the wing of an angel. Entering burnt Warsaw 
and the Sound of the World, how strange, how lonely 
the separate notes of Everything, lost in a smell of
spent shots still smoking, a ghost of bombs, a silence 
of so many voices, the ruined city singing not only 
a post-war song but an Everything hymn of dogs wailing, 
a car, a horse, a droning plane, a slow, distant 
demolition, hammers like rain, the hum, the hum, 
bells and levers and voices leveled and absorbed 
into the infinite hum in which the ruins 
sat empty and low like well-behaved children—
the ruins, their holes, like eyes watching 
from either side—as we entered Warsaw, an air 

of lost worlds in a smoky sweet light—

Copyright © 1984 by Helen Degen Cohen.
Appeared in Spoon River Quarterly, Fall 1984; 1st Prize from Soundings; reprinted in Concert at Chopin's House, New Rivers Press, 1987; and in Blood to Remember, American Poets on the Holocaust, Texas Technology University, 1991.

This version has been edited for the Poetry Porch by JW.


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