Everything I Know – Janet Hiller

Was that a photo of my mother standing behind barbed wire
A kerchief on her head
A glint of hope in her gaunt face and haunted eyes
My husband said -Let’s bring her here to the Museum
To see the photo- the Liberation of Bergen Belsen
She came and saw and sighed her bitter sigh
How could that be me? She asked
I was lying with the dead and dying, sick from typhus, starving
Too weak to stand, too weak to welcome British saviors
She lived to raise a family and tell her story in the schools
To teens – tender open blossoms
Telling them -When life is cruel and dark and pain consumes your heart
Peeling petals from your soul
You still have life
And that is everything
I know


Dr. Janet Hiller was born after the war in Bergen Belsen, then a displaced persons camp, to Holocaust survivors.  Janet earned a doctorate in Modern Languages and Literature Pedagogy from Stony Brook University, and became a professor at Long Island University, a textbook author and also the author of numerous articles for professional journals.  She believes that poetry expresses what cannot be said in any other way.

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