Six Jews Share Their Impressions of Oswiecim

From over here we think that over there 
it is still nineteen forty five. But no— 
for the people who live there it is just 
their town which goes now by its Polish name. 
A beautiful building in the centre 
of the civic square has been turned into 
a grocery shop. 
Since the end of communism they get 
a lot of Jewish tourists. One old man 
showed us a Jewish cemetery. There 
was nothing except a grassy slope with 
a stream nearby. And some trees. Maybe they 
were cherry trees? The old man would talk to 
the guide and she would translate a quarter 
of what he said. We put coins in his hand 
and wondered whose house 
he lived in. 
One cemetery was unusual. 
Around the outside was a concrete wall, 
broken in two by a jagged crack. In 
the middle of the crack there was space. From 
inside the wall you could see their wintery 
Polish sky. We weren’t sure whether this crack in the wall 
was a sculpture or just neglect and if 
it was a sculpture, what it meant. As a group 
we are still divided.  
Another day, we were walking in the 
town square with our guide when she turned to us 
and said, We miss our Jews. We didn’t know 
what to make of this 

Listen to Lynn Jenner read ‘Six Jews Share Their Impressions of Oswiecim


Lynn Jenner studied writing at Victoria University in 2008, where her folio, Dear Sweet Harry, a mixed genre work concerning Harry Houdini, won the Adam Prize. Lynn’s poems have appeared in JAAMTurbineThe Fourth Floor and Best New Zealand Poems 2008.