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Grandmothers and a Soldier

I cut my teeth writing on Hubpages back in 2009. I've written 17 novels, numerous songs, and short stories since. I love to write love.

A walk in the woods.


A feeling to go.

Dari Melania Hollands pulled over near a large wooded area on Highway 40 the next day after attending her Grandmother's funeral. She checked the time on her phone and it was 6:45. She got out of her car, walked to the edge of the woods, and stood facing the deep forest as tears formed in her eyes. Her Grandmother, Magdelena had told her of a time when she was a child in Poland during World War Two.

It was the spring of 1943 when Magdelena, her mother, Leonia, and a small group of prisoners followed a German soldier in the early evening darkness. They entered a large brick-lined drainage tunnel and quietly eased their steps into the ankle-deep water. Even a whisper carried to the ends of the tunnel. The German soldier hushed the group many times. He knew they were hungry and weak but he also knew they had to hurry. The midnight guard rounds would see the floor beds were empty in the northeast corner of the building. He was risking his life to free them. They came out of the tunnel and went up a small embankment.

The soldier whispered to each adult, "Walk toward the brightest star. There are people in Bialystock who can help you escape further. I have been in this forest many times." He saw that most looked afraid. He said, "The darkness of this wilderness is far less to fear than the spotlights of the Nazis." The soldier watched them enter the woods. Within 30 minutes, the group heard gunfire. Magdelena remembered her mother whispering to the others, "We must go faster. I feel they have killed our friend."

The group expected spotlights, dogs, and Nazis but they never came. Years later, Magdelena and Leonia were told by a prisoner who had escaped weeks later that the SS Nazis had shot a German soldier just outside the camp. They had found many footprints at the beginning and end of the tunnel and shot him.


Caw Caw

A thousand emotions were flowing through Dari's mind as she stepped into the woods. She didn't know why she was going into the woods other than a feeling her Grandmother Magdelena was guiding her. She was dressed in shorts, a white and black blouse, and tennis shoes. Her long dark hair became entangled in branches within a few feet. She pulled her hair from the branches and used strands of her hair to tie back her hair. There was a thick growth of Mayapple plants, grasses, and weeds. Dari made her way through the thick brush and could catch tiny glimpses of the red sundown. A half an hour later she was deep in the woods.

She came upon a small creek, leaned against a tree, and watched minnows swimming in the ripples. She noticed one little minnow struggling. It kept falling back further and further. She watched it for a few minutes, sat on a fallen tree trunk, took her shoes off, and stepped into the creek. Dari scooped it up with her hands. She smiled and gently let the minnow go upstream into deeper water. She sat back on the tree trunk to put her shoes on and looked up when she heard a crow cawing. It was high on a tree branch not far from her. Dari grimaced and said aloud, "Well Mr. Crow, are you a German soldier or a Nazi? You are dressed in those shiny black feathers." The crow cawed again. Dari smiled at the crow and said, "I don't speak crow."

She introduced herself to the crow, "I am Dari Melania Hollands. And you are?" The crow cawed twice. She laughed and said, "I would guess your name is Caw Caw?" The crow flew over her head and cawed as it disappeared into the treetops. Dari tied her shoes and saw the darkness creeping through the woods. She began walking away from the creek and realized nothing was familiar. Every direction looked the same. She said aloud, "Crap Dari. Which way do I go?" She looked up and saw the sky was getting much darker. She knew it would be pitch back in the woods." As worry whirled in her mind, she said to herself, "My Grandmother and her mother escaped Treblinka. Even foolish me can get out of this."

The camp.


A poem.

It seemed like every few steps made the woods darker. Just as Dari was about to really panic, she heard, caw...caw...caw!" The crow was to her right. She turned and began walking quicker and began to use her phone light. She followed the caws of the crow until she saw glimpses of headlights and tail lights from the highway. She came out of the woods nearly a quarter-mile from her car. As she walked to her car she heard the crow caw one last time. It was nearly midnight when Dari arrived home. She was tired and still upset with herself for getting lost. She took a shower and went to bed.

The next morning, Dari was having her coffee and remembered her Grandmother, Magdelina had given her some writings that her Great Grandmother Leonia had written. They were kept in the pages of an old dark brown-covered bible. Dari went to her bookshelf and took the book to the kitchen table. She opened it and smiled as she looked at cards, pictures, and letters, placed between pages, mostly written in Polish. Dari found an old browned folded piece of paper in the pages of Exodus. She unfolded it and saw a poem written in Polish on the left fold and translated in English on the right side.

Tears rolled down her cheeks after she read the poem:

The soldier, the soldier held my hand

My sweet young daughter held my soul

He sent us to the wilderness

His crow-like eyes

His dove-like heart

Chose freedom

© 2022 Tom Cornett

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