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Tuesday, July 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gabriela Marquis of Lewis and Clark takes first place for poem in Observance of Holocaust writing and art contests

UPDATED: Thu., April 25, 2019, 2:41 p.m.

Gabriela Marquis is an 11th-grader at Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane. Marquis’s essay entry has taken first place in the 2019 Eva Lassman Writing and Art Contests. (Courtesy photo)
Gabriela Marquis is an 11th-grader at Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane. Marquis’s essay entry has taken first place in the 2019 Eva Lassman Writing and Art Contests. (Courtesy photo)
From staff reports

The Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust has announced the top three selections in the high school division of the 13th annual Eva Lassman Memorial Writing and Art Contests. The contest theme is “Speaking Up for ‘the Other’.”

The contest asked participants to learn about the Holocaust and read about or listen to some of the many stories of survivors who were labeled “the other” by the Nazis, and consider these questions:

What are the lessons you learned from their stories that had a major impact on you? Why is it important to speak up for those who are considered “the other”?

Who are “the other” today? Based on the lessons you learned, what are you motivated to do to speak up for them?

If you go

The contest winners will be recognized at the Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust at 7 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Shalom, 1322 E. 30th Ave., on Spokane’s South Hill. The winner of the Creative Writing Contest will read her essay at the Observance. Everyone is invited to attend.

First place, writing, high school division

The Others

By Gabriela Marquis

11th grade

Lewis and Clark High School

I Am the Other

Germany, 1943

I stand

On the wrong side of a long barbed wire fence

Looking out across a field that is

Always out of reach.

Thinking about freedom, which is

So easily shattered by a fence.

They stand on one side of the fence, and I, the other.

My hair does not shine Aryan gold.

My eyes don’t glimmer like opals.

Once I braided my tangled brown hair,

I covered my eyelids in a soft brown stardust,

And I felt just as beautiful as the others.

I recite the Kaddish and Mi Sheberach

One after another, the Hebrew

Letters lifting from my tongue

And sailing towards the sky.

Even further than the smoking tower,

They run to places

I cannot go.

I pray for the sick; my brother, my abba, my eema, me

I pray for the dead; my brother my abba, my eema, me

Sick or dead,

Sometimes I cannot remember the difference

Between one and the other.

They pick me up from the floor,

Men with guns and badges.

Their fingers scrape my skin

And for a moment I pretend

It is just a mask.

And if they pull hard enough,

It will fall away

And underneath I’ll truly be German, not the Other.

I wish to be born with the blood of my country,

Hair and eyes like women in my country.

I close my eyes and

For a second,

Underneath my Jewish skin,

I am not the other.

As they throw me in a new room,

They call out the number

That invades my skin,

As if it is my name.

They do not let me forget:

I am a Jew, in my blood,

A Jew, in my hair,

A Jew, in my skin.

I am not German.

I am the other.

I stand

On the wrong side of a wall

Nothing but darkness and

A memory, always out of reach.

I sit

In the wrong side of a small room

Thinking about freedom and

Why

They have taken mine away.

They stand on one side of the fence,

A fence built of fear and anger,

Without hesitation

They condemn me

For living as the

Other.

I Am the Other

The United States, 2018

I remember standing

On the wrong side of a slatted steel fence

Looking out across a desert

The entrance to a life

That was always out of reach.

I remember

The freedom of stepping

Across the fence into

The land of the free

Recalling how liberty had stood

On one side of this fence, and I, the other.

My American Dream was to live

And forget the days

My dad came home

His mind full of the threats,

Beaten and grasping at survival,

My parents

Carried their daughter

To the illusion of safety,

Across a desert

To a land where she was the Other.

We wanted to live

To learn, to love, to work,

To grow old without fear.

In a one room apartment

We started over.

My mom gave birth to a boy

In America

As he cried for food one morning,

The fear came to our door.

And now,

My brother,

My mamá,

My papá,

Could be anywhere.

I am alone.

I try not to think what has happened

To people like us, the Others.

I whisper to myself in Spanish,

Dios te salve, Maria

I’m unable to understand

What they yell at me.

Ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.

I imagine the letters lifting from my tongue

and sailing towards the sky.

They run to the places I cannot go.

My body

And frozen cement

I cannot tell the difference

Between one and the other.

They pick me up from the floor,

Men with guns and badges.

Their fingers scrape my skin

And for a moment I pretend

It’s just a mask

And if they pull hard enough,

The mask will tear off,

And underneath I am truly American,

Not the Other.

I wish to be born in this country, with the blood of this country,

A tongue that speaks the words of this country.

But my tongue knows another.

As they throw me in a court room,

Calling my case number as if it is my name,

They don’t let me forget:

My blood, my hair, and my skin don’t belong here

Not even for safety.

They do not seem to hear:

My home is in this country.

My infant brother belongs to this country.

Underneath my skin

And the place of my birth,

I am not the Other.

I sit on the wrong side of a court room

Nothing but fear

And a memory,

Always out of reach.

I stand on the wrong side of a wall

A wall built of fear and anger

Thinking about freedom.

Without hesitation,

They condemn me

For living as the

Other.

From Silence to Speech

United States, 2019

I listen to voices that were taken,

Then rediscovered.

Memories that rob me of my breath.

The mother and her infant,

The sister and the brother,

The child left alone.

Who in our world has been robbed of their voice?

Who in my country cannot speak?

Mothers and infants,

Sisters and brothers,

The children pushed behind bars

Just for being here,

Being different.

Families were torn,

Unable to speak

With their captors,

Unsure when they would ever

Truly be free,

And safe.

Sure that they are

Guilty without a trial.

We listen to the past,

In podcasts, in books, in museums

We listen and listen and listen.

But do we listen to the present?

Now, so often there is silence

And in the past

When there was silence,

The world overlooked it.

But in the silence lived suffering

Souls who could not speak.

Their stories,

Silenced by bars.

If we are to learn from the past,

We must learn how to listen

To the silence

To the other.

Now.

We must listen

Before there are words spoken.

Far too often

Words are spoken too late.

Hurry

And act

Before we again can only remember.

Speak

So that those who are unwilling to hear the silence

Must listen too.

1,100 children

Still find themselves

Trapped in cold cement rooms.

In our country. Now.

Without lawyers or English or family.

In our country,

They will never forget

The tears and the shame.

Justice dwells behind bars, in the still,

Small, silent places.

Let her free.

Wordcount: 1467
Tags: news, Spokane

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