On Holocaust Memorial Day, we would like to take a moment to share a poem written for the occasion by Holly Peters, Mayflower 400 Young City Laureate for Plymouth.

The Light of No Hope

Watch the candle flicker against the dark wall
Telling stories of those who were silenced.

We light the flame to ignite their memory,
The light from their smiles
Stolen to feed a chilling darkness –
Stars pinched straight from the sky.

The loudest kind of quiet, a quiet that creeps,
A quiet that quakes, a quiet to be uncovered.

An orphanage forced into the shadows,
A storm cloud blanketing a nation,
The underground
Offering refuge, sanctuary, an escape –
A one-way ticket to live the rest of his life.
But he refused. Refused to leave the children
Without guidance, without safety, without hope.
In rows of four, best dresses and jackets,
Neatly polished shoes, backpacks with a book
Or a toy – all they had left.

They’d leave the suffocating city, see meadows
And daisies for the first time. Woods with fairies
And berries, and green, green grass.
The greatest gift: stories, daring to dream,
Letting their imaginations break out of the ghetto.
They smiled and laughed. Hand in hand.

He never left their side; one of them till the end.
A uniformed shape leading the procession,
Different destinations in mind.

They had forgotten, silenced by the pounding rain,
That we all bleed the same:
White always has been stained by crimson

An empty orphanage,
Misted windows, musty clothes,
Fragile dreams and empty promises.

Hidden from the world, an ink blot on the map.
Not a rabbit or a butterfly or a bird
That would cross the fence –
The long way around –
The forest violated, forced to lie
To hide and disguise their evil;
Even flowers feared to grow.

Did it ever really end?
Stains of cruelty that can’t be washed out,
Because it’s forgotten that
All blood spills crimson

Phantom footsteps, tiny imprints,
Barefoot on the snow,
So pure,
But it never hides the deeds
So dark.

Holly Peters, January 2020.