And when we finally arrived we saw a country halt;
Reassuring, such a station as you only see in dreams,
With flowers and shrubs in beds and tubs and, placed
About, quite welcoming, bright painted
Empty benches. On that summer day it seemed
We had come into a magic land, an enchanted park.
Blooms – topaz and ruby; trees – bronze, gold and peridot.
Somewhere a small dog barked; Toto perhaps? There was
A waiting room, cast iron lamps and, on the wall,
Timetables for the trains that never were, or would be.
There was a newly painted picket fence,
A ticket office where nobody came and went.
The station clock, whose reassuring hands
We soon saw never moved, and never would,
Smiled down on each new transport as it shuddered to a halt.
And, to complete this Technicolor wonderland
There was a zoo! A rainbow scatter of parrots,
Red squirrels, four young foxes too. And, as
The wagon doors slammed open, great, glorious light
Poured in from the far country of a fabled land.
And yet we knew, when the Ukrainians came
With their forage caps, their bull whips
And their black-glass shiny leather boots, that they
Were not Munchkins; that there were no ruby shoes;
And that this, though pretty, and most definitely not
In black and white, was probably not Kansas.
The camp commandant at Treblinka concentration camp created a small zoo near the
station, so that those about to die, as they disembarked from the transports,
would not be panicked.