The Porraimos

I am alone and frightened as I stand
And watch the SS uniforms
Drive us from our land
Like stinging wasps; they swarm
Until I’m surrounded, hit and stung.
I am lied to and about
And will never bear a son.
My blood is slowly coursing out

Into the darkness. They soon will take me
And my people, for what they call a crime.
This train will make me
Pay for passing my time
In a hand-painted vardo, with a load
Of kipsis and other goods to sell.
For being homeless, wandering the road,
They’ve sentenced us to hell.

Divvel, pray for me now!
I’ll soon be fodder for the plough.

They bundle me into the room.
The gas pours in; I catch my breath,
In what I know will be my tomb.
There’s no cheating this unwelcome death.
Not one flower blooms as they cast me aside;
Not one bird sings as I go.
Yesterday, I might have been a bride
And gladly married miri ro.

Here, in Auschwitz, Chelmno, Bialystock,
The holocaust deniers spin their lies;
I watch the crowds of tourists flock.
These special pleaders with insincere sighs
Will not grant us our place,
Round down the numbers of our dead.
Or say, “Gypsies are not a race.”
Today I eat this bitter bread.

Editor’s note:
Porraimos (alternatively spelled Porrajmos or Porajmos) means ‘the devouring.’ The Roma use this term to describe the Holocaust, where nearly a million died because of their race. Despite their large death toll, none were called to testify and no one spoke on their behalf at the post-war Nuremberg Trials. To learn more about Roma culture, read Bury Me Standing, by Isabel Fonseca.

About the author

Linda Marshall lives in London where she writes about her Romany heritage. An avid traveler, Linda has visited over thirty countries and has lived…

Read the full bio

Issue 03 · February 2009

Table of contents