Beloved in our neighborhood



My sweet-sixteen dress was yellow as the daffodils

In the seamstress’s cramped but spotless living room,

Yellow as the sweet lemon bars she made each Christmas

For the neighborhood children.

Mrs. Mueller lived at the end of our block

In a little stone cottage near a field of flowers,

Like a grandmother in a fairy tale.

She was old and poor and crippled

But always tidy, always smiling,

Even as the marshals took her away

After it came to light that, once upon a time,

She was a guard at Auschwitz.

—“Light,’’ by Felicia Nimue Ackerman. This poem was first published in Free Inquiry