EMILY STRAUSS – A GRAIN OF DUST LIKE A PROMISE

– a grain of dust like a promise

outside the barred windows
high up on the walls
light and life reigned
a dust mote blew free
in the sunshine
that couldn’t penetrate
the smoky interior

the cattle cars were cold
but somehow acceptable
at least they could smell
the abandoned stations
they passed always at night
in an unknown land

the train rattled on
doors kept locked
guards banging outside
a distant gunshot woke
the babies, whimpering

grains of dust from the straw
floated above them,
promises grew fainter
as the train pressed on
dust mixed with dry skin,
cotton threads, hair

there were no promises
as they arrived at the gates
the dust released when the guards
slid open the cattle chutes,
the families stumbled out
captives of the soot.

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