pour Lucienne Friedler
Balance on the rotten log that divides you from the rest of the trail.
Breathe in the crisp air that envelops you.
The speckling of wildflowers dancing as the alpine air hits them.
The crunch of the rocks & pebbles as your classmates solve the natural puzzle before them.
The peaks that rise before you, telling you that you’re smaller than you think.
It’s the burn in your calves that makes you second guess the beauty of the French Alps.
It’s beautiful, sure, but it hurts.
It hurts to climb when you feel your legs on fire.
It hurts to breathe when you can hear your heart throbbing.
It hurts seeing how far back you are from the rest of the crew, how one of you couldn’t even finish.
But there is a pain that goes beyond the physical sores, an aching chest, loss of breath.
It’s the pain of tiny hands never getting the chance to grasp a colored pencil ever again, their small bodies yanked from an alpine paradise, a temporary home against a background of intolerance.
Can you not see their small smiles, joyous at the bar of chocolate they bite into, a piece of candy that means everything?
Can you not see their worries for their family? Where is maman? How is papa? Me? I’m okay, happy as can be.
They can’t see a life bigger than their minds, eyes bright and open towards understanding, arms forever open.
They can’t see Lucienne Friedler.
They can’t see her young face, looking out at the mountains that connect together.
They can’t see her curly locks when worn naturally, straight when brushed out.
They can’t see who she could be, the young woman from Anvers, a February baby, who could rise to academic excellence, maybe a journalist, possibly a doctor.
But she can’t escape.
She’s just an idea that needs to end.
When we look to the mountains and wilderness for refuge, remember those who couldn’t escape. Remember those who breathed in poisonous fumes when they should have breathed in fresh grass and a clean childhood. Remember those who forever remained children.
photo credit belongs to me