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When a Child Gave Me Advice (The Girl in the Red Coat)

Bremen, Germany 1935
A young recruit eager to turn things around
Become a man that would make his family proud
He’d never done well in school or on the field
But they promised this would make him a hero
Provide him with a stable future and life
A cold winter day- nothing new
Until something caught his eye
A frightened family scurried up the road
To hide their daughter away before curfew
There was something about the girl
She must have been 6 years old at most
There was something striking to the eye
Perhaps it was her lovely, red coat
Or the way she slinked down the street
With an occasional hop-
Oblivious to her mother’s plea not to stop
She looked at Erhard with a playful sense of glee
Moved two steps closer and touched his hand
Traced a finger around his wrist and sweetly said,
“Soldier you look sad. This cannot be!”
“I know a trick that my mother taught me”
“Close your eyes, just for one minute”
“And think of anything else”
“Ponies or tulips, perhaps pudding with syrup”
No sooner than had she spoken, she was gone

Munich, Germany 1937
Joseph flicked a cigarette and quickly curled
his fingertips into his palm
To spare them from the sacrificial cold
Screw the Third Reich he scoffed
Sign up and be a hero with the ladies???
It had been over 6 months since he’d touched a lady
Another truck rolled in,
unloaded the masses of impure ones
Herding them like cattle through the barbed wire gate
A speck of red caught his eye
and stood out against the sea of grey
It was a coat, yes a red coat
Worn by a girl- probably 7 or 8 years old
Despite her tiny physique, she looked full of life
Her curls bounced as she moved
She wore a smile that resembled innocence
And hid years of suffering
As she moved past him, she caught his eye
And spoke in unwavering tone
“Soldier you look unhappy, this should not be”
“Years ago my mother told me”
“If things make you unhappy”
“They are not meant to be”
“You can live a better life”
“Far from here”
“In a land filled with laughter”
“Not sadness and fear”
Joseph bowed his head
and for a moment let himself feel shame
A feeling that he’d kept suppressed for far too long
When he looked up, she was gone

Auschwitz, Poland 1941
Everywhere Erich looked, he saw the sullen faces
Of the ones who had been stripped of their identity
They shuffled aimlessly around the place
and lingered about in groups of three or four
How he wished he could be back home
With his wife and his darling girl
His little darling Gratia
She would be 8, in a few weeks time
He noticed a girl, a few years older than Gratia
She wore a red coat draped over her shoulders
It was far too small for her to wear properly
She looked nothing like his Gratia,
With her dark curls and thick brows
But he couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of sorrow
When he looked at her
The girl in the red coat looked in his direction
But her eyes went right through him
As though he was a ghost
Was he a ghost? This didn’t feel like living
The girl spoke to a boy who sat next to her on the bunk
The words were not intended for Erich
But he took them and carried them as though they were
“My friend I can see that you are in pain”
“This won’t be forever, this suffering won’t last”
“You have fond memories to hold on to”
“Of times from your past”
“Stay strong and never lose hope”
“For you’ll be invincible under my coat”
Erich turned and moved away, quick in his stride
He did not see the girl pass her coat to the boy
Who attempted a smile as he wrapped himself in the red coat

Auschwitz, Poland 1943

Review Request (Intensity): 
I appreciate moderate constructive criticism
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
This character- the girl in the red coat comes from the film Schindler's List. The girl only appears in the movie twice, but her red coat is very symbolic as it is the only colour shown in the film. The red coat represents hope, innocence and love against the black and white backdrop of war. When you see the red coat for the second time in the film, it's absolutely heartbreaking. This piece is unfinished- I haven't been able to get myself to write the final part yet :( :( :( (Auschwitz 1943). We all know how it has to end and where the red coat is going to end up- which is going to be very sad and difficult to write, but I will finish it I promise. I always finish what I start.
Editing stage: 
Content level: 
Not Explicit Content


that should be finished. However, it is not a poem. You have a promising story here and I hope you finish it. ~ Geezer.

This must be the place, 'cause there ain't no place like this place anywhere near this place

I think it is poetry. It's prose poetry which I've seen plenty of people post on here. Writing doesn't have to follow all the traditional poetry rules to be considered poetry. Language and poetry is always evolving over time. Just because something wasn't considered poetry 500 years ago, doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered poetry today. Thanks for reading! I respect your opinion. It's ok to have different opinions and disagree on some things xxx

author comment

I couldn't agree more! ~ Geezer.

This must be the place, 'cause there ain't no place like this place anywhere near this place

Thanks Geezer! The respectful discussions and debate that we are able to have in this community is part of what makes it so amazing. The definition and idea of poetry is slightly different for everyone, and I think that is great! It would be boring if we all had the same views and opinion on everything Xxx

author comment

a good narrative flow, i hope you get to finish the last part, keep inspired, well done!

Thank you for reading this and for your words of encouragement.

author comment

Such a powerful story! It definitely needs to be finished! I am not well versed in prose poetry but I think you did a fine job!


Thanks so much! Remember I was telling you about the the powerful symbolism of the Red Coat in Schindler's List- it really inspired me to write something that gave this character more of a part. It's such an old movie now, but I still think it remains to be one of the most powerful effects I've ever seen. Did you know the child actor who played this part suffered extreme trauma after acting in the movie. She had to have years of therapy to cope. It's soooooo sad.

author comment

A very intricate story. I really liked it very much

I'm a little more than just embarrassed. to admit that I haven't seen this movie. However we all should be aware of what went on at that time. Humanity is so unkind, violent and lecherous, and language is the bridge to our understanding one another and living in peace and harmony!

The only difference between a grave and a rut is that one has an open end!
Just keep moving, writing, whatever it takes! You've got it sussed!

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