May/June 2017 • Vol. XXXIX No. 3 Nature's Nature |

Witnesses

One hundred thousand people were murdered by the Nazis at Ponary, 10km southwest of Vilnius where my grandmother was born.   Today is gray, drizzling, but not enough for drops to pool on the tips of the silver needlesor soak the bark of the pines at Ponary—some of themmore than a century old. Here, when the trains wheeled on numb rails. And before I have goneten feet into the forest, I hear the sound. Of course. There would have to be a train.But I hadn't expected it still to run like this, people getting off and on with their packages.I hadn't thought of the scent of resin spilling into the cold afternoon. The trees step to the rimof the pits where Jews were shot so the bodies fell in efficiently. Their branches could save no one. They offered oxygento victims and executioners, the same. They drank moisture,blood, minerals. Each year increasing another ring. 

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