Holy Innocents A Dead Child Speaks

My mother held me by my hand.

Then someone raised the knife of parting:

So that it should not strike me,

My mother loosed her hand from mine.

But she lightly touched my thighs once more

And her hand was bleeding –

After that the knife of parting

Cut in two each bite I swallowed –

It rose before me with the sun at dawn

And began to sharpen itself in my eyes –

Wind and water ground in my ear

And every voice of comfort pierced my heart –

As I was led to death

I still felt in the last moment

The unsheathing of the great knife of parting.

Nelly Sachs

(Translated by Ruth &Matthew Mead)

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