LeadingAge Creative Writing Contest: “A Mother” by Alice Cahana

As every year since 1993, LeadingAge Oregon is holding a Creative Writing Contest. Cedar Sinai Park residents participate in great numbers. Winners will be announced on February 28; up to 50 top-rated pieces will also be published in “Reflections: A Collection of Writing and Poetry by Oregon’s Elders.”

Here’s the third of 13 submissions we’ll be reprinting here (with permission from their authors).

“A Mother” by Alice Cahana

The colors of the early dawn changed softly. The sun seemed to be ashamed to announce a new day in Auschwitz. We stood in line outside the barracks since early in the morning…the cold intensified our hunger and pain.

“I was married just two years ago.” The woman next to me whispered softly. “Last night I gave birth to our son–to my first child. There in the barracks of Auschwitz. My first child they took him away even before I could touch his soft skin and say to him, ‘Welcome to the world my beloved son…your Father would have been so proud of your round cheeks and long gentle fingers. Welcome to the world.”’ She muttered to herself, her tears falling on the unpaved ground mingling here with her slowly oozing blood.

We stood there to be counted like sheep by the white-gloved, well-groomed S.S woman. Her hair coiffured in the latest style. Her perfumed scent intensified the feeling of our own neglected bodies.

“I so wanted to be a mother”, the woman continued through her tears… “Care, patience and love would have been our child’s diet. I would have nourished him with the tales of the past. He would have grown to be a good man.” She paused a bit and whispered even more softly.

“If I survive…I want to love the world around me. The spring. The forest and people. All people.” She whispered, almost like reciting a prayer and clearing her soul from hate and revenge.

Her face turned toward the sky. Her alabaster skin looked translucent in the early morning light. The mystical rays of the dawn mingled with the smoke of the crematorium.