O the Chimneys

by Nelly Sachs

Nelly Sachs

O the chimneys

On the carefully planned dwellings of death

When Israel’s body rose dissolved in smoke

Through the air –

To be welcomed by a chimney sweep star

Turned black

Or was it a ray of the sun?

O the chimneys!

Paths of freedom for the dust of Jeremiah and Job –

Who dreamed you up and built stone upon stone

The path of smoke for their flight?

O dwellings of death

Set out so enticingly

For the host of the house, who used to be the guest –

O you fingers

Laying the stone of the threshold

Like a knife between life and death –

O you chimneys

O you fingers

And Israel’s body dissolves in smoke through the air!

Last updated June 20, 2019