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Dog - April 2005

“The Holocaust by Bullets,” Ukraine, 1941-1944,
Nina Roufimovna Lisitsina

In my fifth
holy year on earth,

I climbed out of a corpse-filled,

breakspirit ravine,
clutching the roots of trees

(so beautiful,
the god-tall cypresses,

the grandfather pines
in that part of the Crimea),

and groped my way, gingerly,
toward my twilit village,

the lone, itinerant survivor.
The pull, the rose light

of home
is unkillable.


“The Ravine” by Cyrus Cassells.

This poem, found in Cassells’s collection The Crossed-Out Swastika, is based on the testimony of Nina Roufimovna Lisitsina, a Crimean girl who was the only member of her village to survive the Nazi’s “Holocaust of Bullets,” in which 1.5 million were slaughtered.

The above picture was snapped in Houston, Texas.

Cyrus Cassells