When I was a child,
I saw the stones as flowers –
the tears of hope were many-coloured.
Red and blue and yellow
smiling they blossomed in childhood’s garden.
Around my shoulders a bright-coloured coat,
today I know it was a dream,
a dream that forced me to live.
Drunk with life today I stand here colourless
and keep my eyes open
for what really is.
My silent smile
shows the way to gardens of stone,
I see the light of too many scars.
By Philomena Franz
Translated by Jean Boase-Beier
Read The German Riveter in its entirety here.
Find the books from The German Riveter on the Goethe-Institut page.
Philomena Franz, who was born in 1922, is a Sinti storyteller, poet and educator, who lives near Cologne. She is a survivor of Auschwitz, Ravensbrück and Oranienburg. Her parents, godmother and five siblings did not survive.
Jean Boase-Beier is Professor Emerita of Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia, where she founded the MA in Literary Translation in 1992 and ran it until 2015. She is also Translations Editor for Arc Publications.