Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Anne (Poem)


. . . in spite of everything I still believe
that people are really good at heart.

Goodness happens
even when it does not.

A diary begins on the day
it is given and everything
just goes so fast

Breakfast dishes are left on the table
and a cat gets the only goodbye.

To be 13 when the world is
on fire and it is pouring rain
and your sister, 16, is summoned means

We shall disappear of our own
accord and not wait until they come
and fetch us.

Goodness happens
before it's past.

Curtains fix the night inside
and books are brought and food
laid in and two attic windows
give onto a chestnut marking seasons
yet to turn around.

A man a woman a boy of 15
crowd life behind a door
behind a bookcase
made to move for a secret
prayed not to be found.

Each day just goes
till one spills a spat into another
weak and weaker moments filled
so fast and then the arguing

It's past so fast
between mother and daughter
family and family
husbands and wives
one more gets added
making danger as dangerous
for eight as for seven.

No one has a chance of evading them,
unless one goes into hiding. . . .

Goodness happens
in an annex.

Autumn hands off to winter
a father keeps lessons going
a daughter writes

And soon enough it is a new year
1943 and every night
there is shooting and planes
and the sound of rats and, once,
a sack of cascading beans noise enough
to waken the dead.

Goodness happens
in fine script.

A girl writes of Stories and
Events, a real book
of real moods and remarks and other things
entered in accounting books
to make the time pass. . . and the stillness
and the terrible fear

Because there is no way of
killing time until

Goodness happens
in the attic.

Each day just goes
and it is 1944 so fast and a girl
and a boy breathe fresh air
and fall in love
while the chestnut stays bare.

Goodness happens
in the space of want.

Change finds the possible
the chestnut goes green and
the sky so blue and
each day just goes so fast
the spell of a boy's eyes cannot
be broken until

One burglary becomes
another that becomes a third
and someone begins to suspect
something and Dutch nazis
search what Germans would betray.

And the cupboard is rattled not once
but twice before
the helpers arrive and a first
kiss between a boy of 17 and a girl
not yet 15
becomes the more thrilling moment
until it's past.

Goodness happens
and then disappointment

In the annex
where each day just goes and
liberation is stuck waiting
for the Allies' march on the Prinsengracht
while dreams and cherished hopes
fall into line as a fairy tale ending's undone.

I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet,
if I look up into the heavens, I think
that it will all come right. . . .

Goodness happens
until eleven days later

And the last entry is made.
August 4, 1944, after nine thirty
and before half past ten
German police queue up and Dutch
nazis and a truck

And what's left behind,
besides hands raised and
books scattered and time stilled,
are measures of heights — markers of
growth more than age — and papers
bearing the girl's fine penmanship and orders
to pulse the annex where

Goodness happens
until it does not.

Copyright © 2010 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.

Italicized words come from entries in Anne Frank's diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, The Definitive  Edition (Doubleday, 1991), in order, dated July 5, 1942; November 19, 1942; November 9, 1942; October 29, 1943; and July 15, 1944. The quote below the poem's title also is taken from the entry of July 15, 1944. Anne made her last diary entry on August 1, 1944.

The Germans hired the Puls company to strip and empty the homes of Jews who were arrested and deported, giving rise in Amsterdam to the phrase "pulsing" a house.

Their presence betrayed, Anne and her family and those who shared space in the Secret Annex at 263 Prinsengracht were arrested on August 4, 1944. On August 8, they were transported to Westerbork, a concentration camp, and on September 3 to Poland, to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Anne and her sister Margot were transferred in October 1944 to Bergen-Belsen, where both died in March 1945. Bergen-Belsen was liberated in April 1945. Anne's mother Edith Frank died in Auschwitz on January 6, 1945. Toward the end of January the Russians liberated the camp; Otto Frank survived his imprisonment there. Anne's friend Peter van Pels died in May 1945 in Mauthausen, three days before that camp was liberated; his mother died in the spring of 1945, in Therensienstadt; his father, a few weeks after arrival in Auschwitz, in September 1944. Fritz Pfeffer, the eighth person to hide in the Annex with the Franks and van Pels (he arrived in November 1942), died in Neuengamme in December 1944.

I wrote this poem for today's Blog Carnival and for Carry on Tuesday #43.

The Blog Carnival, a biweekly online event open to anyone, is sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock at Rediscovering the Church. Today's one-word prompt or topic is "goodness". Go here for a list of links to all of the contributions.

The Blog Carnival's fan page on Facebook is here.

Carry on Tuesday provides each week as a writing prompt a quote that is to be used, wholly or partly, in original prose or poetry. The prompt for March 9 is from the Beatles' song Love You To: "Each day just goes so fast / I turn around — / it's past". Go here for a list of links to all of the participants' sites.


Glynn said...

Eleven years ago, I walked through the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. It was crowded, but the silence was profound. To see the rooms where the eight people lived, left much the same way as they were, is to see eight lives constricted and contained. And yet to see a place where eight people hid is also to see hope.

This brought it all back.

Unknown said...

I overuse beautiful, but I did find this beautiful and meaningful. I overuse love, too, but I love the way you pulled this together. Thank you. I wonder if Anne knew quite what impact her diary would have. Anne is always somewhere in my head when I write. And it was her diary, that started me on journaling and a number of other things.

Goodness happens even when it does not. Goodness happens until it does not.

Where would we be without poetry?

Louise Gallagher said...

Last weekend my daughter, Liseanne, and friends visited the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam. Liseanne has always been entranced with the stories of hope and faith and goodness during WW2. She called me and told me how moved she was to be in this sacred space where so much goodness found a place to hide in a world of madness.

Thank you for bringing her experience alive with your words Maureen.


Anonymous said...

I haven't read her diary in years and years. You make me want to read it again. She would be so honored by your words.

S. Etole said...

goodness happens in all places ...

katdish said...

I think this in one of my favorites, Maureen. This is simply beautiful.

Anonymous said...

such a sweet child.
the words drift through time and illuminate the evil in man and hope in the goodness that can live in the heart.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely lovely, Maureen. I was completely engrossed in every beautiful word!

rob kistner said...

Maureen -- I find a number of phrases and stanzas in this piece quite captivating. I especially like this:
"Curtains fix the night inside
and books are brought and food
laid in and two attic windows
give onto a chestnut marking seasons
yet to turn around."

This was a very engaging work and wholly enjoyable...


Julie Jordan Scott said...

Several of my friends are going to be in the stage version of Diary of Anne Frank, which opens in several weeks. I am going to send them a link to your work here.

I am embarassed about my own Carry on Tuesday entry now.

Brava to you.

sarah said...

very nice indeed, if nice can be applied to such a subject.

Bernadette Pabon ,Teacher, Director of CCD, Author said...

Great poetry, but my favorite are the words of Anne Frank, I wrote about Ann's experience because it is one that we must never let happen again. Goodness must reign in our lives and we must fight for it to exist by acknowledging it and allowing it to enrich us and honoring GOODNESS...GOD.

Stan Ski said...

Often real-time does pass quickly, but a diary, especially that of Amnne Frank, keeps important events in perspective.

L.L. Barkat said...

What an amazing way to contribute to the carnival.

I especially liked...

"a sack of cascading beans noise enough
to waken the dead."

Anonymous said...

I read that book when I was Anne's age and I only read iy once, but the images and words are still so clear in my mind that your poem brough it back to life.

Rebecca said...

Your words are so expressive, and contain so much experience in such a small format. Thank you for sharing this with us. It made me, too, wish to reread the diary.

jen said...

Maureen-- I was thinking about your work this morning. Glad your revision of the Gulf poem was posted on Poets for Living Waters.

This poem is beautiful but I would like to see you post it on our group; like your original Gulf poem it may try to do a bit too much and it is so very beautiful and has so much to say about tyranny, oppression, living in fear. xj