How Did They Kill My Grandmother?

Boris Abramovich Slutsky (1919-1986) was a Soviet poet. His poems were first published in 1941. He fought in WW2, from June 1941 in the 60th Infantry Brigade and from April 1943 as senior political instructor of the 57th Division. He was badly wounded and discharged from the army in 1946 with the rank of major.
He was a member of the Union of Writers of the USSR from 1957.
He had an ambiguous reputation in literary circles. Many of his contemporaries and colleagues couldn’t forgive him for speaking out against Boris Pasternak at the meeting of the Union of Writers of the USSR on October 31, 1958, in which Pasternak was expelled from the Union. Slutsky condemned publication of Doctor Zhivago in the West. Friends of the poet believe that he regretted doing so and never forgave himself.

How Did They Kill My Grandmother?

How did they kill my grandmother?
I’ll tell you how they killed her.
On morning a tank rolled up to
a building where
one hundred and fifty Jews of our town who,
from a year’s starvation,
and white
with the knowledge of death,
were gatheredholding their bundles.
And the German polizei were
herding the old people briskly;
and their tin mugs clanked as
the young men led them away
far away.

But my small grandmother
my seventy-year old grandmother
began to curse and
scream at the Germans;
shouting that I was a soldier.
She yelled at them: My grandson
is off at the front fighting!
Don’t you dare
touch me!
Listen, you
can hear our guns!

Even as she went off, my grandmother
cried abuse,
starting all over again
with her curses.
From every window then
Ivanovnas and Andreyevnas
Sidorovnas and Petrovnas
sobbed: You tell them, Polina
Matveyevna, keep it up!
They all yelled together:
“What can we do against
this enemy, the Hun?”
Which was why the Germans chose
to kill her inside the town.

A bullet struck her hair
and kicked her grey plait down.
My grandmother fell to the ground.
This is how she died there.

Boris Slutsky


1 thought on “How Did They Kill My Grandmother?

  1. Pingback: Boris Slutsky | standupandspit

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