This is a poem pieced together from notes and lines in a notebook I used while serving as the teaching assistant for the Holocaust course offered at the University of Nebraska. During my time with the class, I was able to schedule some survivors to come speak with our students. I tried my best to scribble out their stories in my notebook, so I could always have my own record of their experiences. Over the years, I have returned to their stories time and again while struggling with matters of faith, resilience, and cruelty. This poem is made up of lines and summaries that I found in my notes from Lou Leviticus.
Half a bottle of vodka & half a loaf of bread
Kylie Louise McCormick
Half a bottle of vodka & half a loaf of bread I opened my mouth and the sea came pouring out. Five years of misery, a nine year old criminal hiding from Nazis on farms and in forests, stealing eggs and sleeping in haystacks. "Not big now, but a lot smaller then." How did he survive? With his father closing the door and telling him, "go!" With the falter, a brief flicker of humanity which stops a soldier, his finger poised on the trigger, as a Jewish child falls in front of him. "I'll never know why he didn't shoot me," the old man now recalls, "he was punished later."