by Amanda Fritz, 2023 Business Fellow
Feathers ruffle against the dreary sky,
the train whistles: four more cars. Herding sheep
the soldiers yell, hit, mock my bloodshot cry.
A brother? Cousin? Likeness starts to seep
’tween prisoners and captors–which’ll keep?
Which’ll perish? Why? Logic drives not men
whose weakness is fear of weakness’s creep.
Innocent faces, remember them.
Day and night, mere boys with guns. Some are shy
and befriend the prisoners. Others weep
and wish they were home with families. Why
is there so much hate? Of oneself, a deep
distaste for complying but scared. Bopeep
around, no choice but to nod yes, surrend-
-er. What happens to those who fight? Who bleep?
Complicit faces, remember them.
Why does man find joy in methods to try
and make those different seem afraid, weak
and inferior? Does it satisfy
an innate evil? Is it learned? We keep
searching for answers; a sad, hollow keep
leads to more questions. The evolution
of studies is dark; it lacks warning beeps.
Curious faces, remember them.
Feathers ruffle against the sun and seep
into the background, like a mother hen
watching newcomers see, learn, blush and weep.
All victims’ faces, remember them.
Little birdie in the sky,
teach me how to pray.
Careless, free, and feathered cry,
verses lifted up to the Dei.
“How long have you lived up there?”
I wonder, but not out loud, do I say.
Sky so blue, so clear, so bare,
so few clouds in a space so gray.
I look up high and yonder,
then back down to the ground
where dirt and ash are mixed. I wonder,
“How many men, women, children live under this mound?”
As I look at my group’s eyes, which glean,
wide with disbelief,
I notice the sickening contrast between
the beautiful sky and the camp ridden with grief.
The barren earth, the cold, rough beds
in barracks running miles wide.
Rows and rows between wire barbed,
suffocating all those inside.
I see the kitchen, crematoria, shooting wall—
all used to murder innocent folk.
I see the faces of the unknowing in all
the photos, and up with tears I choke.
One photo is of three small boys,
the two younger, knuckles white, clinging hard.
Their naïve walk to their impending doom, a decoy
devised by the Nazis who run the yard.
I think of my brother, sister, and me—I am the oldest—
and feel sibling trust in these young lads’ eyes.
A pang stabs my heart and I wonder, “Would I be the boldest?
Would I comfort them even as my soul cries?”
Rooms of shoes, of suitcases, of shaved hair,
I spy one braid long, red hair tie and dirty blonde,
so perturbing. Personal touches made with care,
robbed from those by whom they were once donned.
As we walk around the concentration camp
on this bright and sunny day,
I feel like there is no escape from the damp
dreariness I feel stalking me as I turn every which way.
Physically imprisoned by the barbed wire fence
and smothered by emotional distress,
I cannot fathom treating others with such lack of penitence.
Animalistic in nature, from all angles evil does egress.
Reflecting on experiences, past, present, future,
as I start my new career,
I ask how I can do better–both suture
prior wrongs and do right when ethics aren’t crystal clear.
Not quite junior, not quite senior:
what difference can I make?
No effort too small or meager;
it is important to be intentional with the steps I take.
Decision and consequence go hand-in-hand,
whether obvious or obscure.
One must consider all those unplanned
affected persons and the results they must endure.
So, add to the decision matrix another layer for people:
always question what is assumed.
For as we learned in class, if unrationalized, a mere sheeple,
is a red flag of an ideology presumed.
Little birdie in the sky,
teach me how to grow.
For years seeing hate, love, death, life—things that went straight and awry—
from your wisdom I will know.
Amanda Fritz was a 2023 FASPE Business Fellow. She is currently an investment manager at Schroders Capital, where she works on its US Buyout team, investing in private equity primaries and co-investments.