The Leather Suitcase

They don’t
make suitcases
like that
any more.

Time was,
when voyage meant
train, steamship
distances unbridgeable
waiting for a thinning mail
weeks, then months,
then nothing

Time was,
when this case
was made
solid, leather,
heavy stitching
with protective edges
at the corners.

Children’s train,
across the Reich
and starts again...

a lighted gangplank,
night ferry to gray-misted
sea-gulled Harwich
again the rails
reaching flat across
East Anglia,
to London

in my bedroom
the suitcase,
a silent witness
with two labels

“Masaryk Station, Praha”
“Royal Scot, London-Glasgow”

Leather suitcase
from a far-off country,
containing all the love
parents could pack
for a five year old
off on a journey
for life.

*From the end of 1938 until the outbreak of War in Sept. 1939, about 10,000, mostly Jewish children (unaccompanied by parents or adults) were brought from Nazi-controlled Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain under the Kindertransport scheme. But for the Kindertransport, few, if any, of these would have survived the War.

Kindertransport Echoes in Rambles, Outings with a Wayward Muse

Tom Berman's picture

Last updated April 25, 2011