Sarabande – Robert René Galván

for Zuzana Růžičková

She clutched the leaves
in her hand
as she waited
to be loaded
onto the waiting truck.

Somehow, an angry wind
lifted the notes
and they sailed
down the street
like runaway kites,

But the music rode
along in her heart,
persisted through
every kind of horror,
from Auschwitz
to Bergen-Belsen,
antithesis of the camp
accordion and broken
strings’ blithe
to endless roll calls
in the bitter cold,
and the merriment
of the guards.

Those pages looped
in her head
even as she wrestled
a stray beet from the cold ground,
digging with her fingernails
to feed her dying mother.

When she returned
to Prague,
her hands were ruined,
and new monsters
would soon appear
in the streets,
but the Sarabande sang
in her insistent fingers
until it circled the soiled world
like a golden thread.

* Harpsichordist, Zuzana Růžičková, is considered one of the great musicians
of the 20th century.  She survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.
The work in question is J.S. Bach’s E minor Sarabande from the fifth book of English Suites.
Růžičková had written it out by hand at the age of 13 to take with her during her internment.

Robert GalvanRobert René Galván, born in San Antonio, resides in New York City where he works as a professional musician and poet. His last collection of poems is entitled, Meteors, published by Lux Nova Press. His poetry was recently featured in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Azahares Literary Magazine, Gyroscope, Hawaii Review, Stillwater Review, West Texas Literary Review, and the Winter 2018 issue of UU World. He is a Shortlist Winner Nominee in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award for Best Poem.