Shoes on the Danube

“To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by arrow cross militia men in 1944-1945.  Erected 16th April 2005.”

A Cartload of Shoes

The wheels are turning, turning,
What are they bringing there?
They are bringing me a cartload
Of quivering footwear.

A cartload like a wedding
In the evening glow;
The shoes–in heaps, dancing
Like people at a ball.

Is it a holiday, a wedding dance?
Or have I been misled?
I know these shoes at a glance
And look at them with dread.

The heels are tapping:
Where to, where to, what in?
From the old Vilna streets
They ship us to Berlin.

I need not ask whose
But my heart is rent:
Oh, tell me, shoes, the truth,
Where were the feet sent?

The feet of those boots
With buttons like dew, –
The child of those slippers,
The woman of that shoe.

And children’s shoes everywhere,
Why don’t I see a child?
Why are the bridal shoes there
Not worn by the bride?

Among the children’s worn out boots
My mother’s shoes so fair!
Sabbath was the only day
She donned this footwear.

And the heels are tapping:
Where to, where to, what in?
From the old Vilna streets
They chase us to Berlin.

Abraham Sutzkever

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