RJF: third rendering

They gave out soap with the letters R.J.F.
You cannot know what that meant

The letters stand for ‘Pure Jewish Fat’
The soap was made of human fat
You can imagine then how it felt

To be told to wash our clothes
And even to consider cleaning one’s body
One’s hair with the fingernails, the bones

And flesh of our murdered loved ones.
For all I knew at the time there might
Have been a small piece of my father

In that soap that I washed with. Or of
Our old neighbours in the little house. Or
Of my friend’s father, of whom no one spoke

And not a trace was ever seen again.
One year after the liberation, Simon Wiesenthal,
The famous Nazi Hunter, reported a find

Of boxes, in a former army depot
With the same initials, R.I.F.
With ironic satisfaction he records

That the wrapping paper around the bars
Only revealed the soap was manufactured
From Jewish bodies

But how the systematic Germans left out
Of their list of ingredients the most basic
Information, whether they were “children,

Girls, men or elderly people.” No doubt
You will have noticed with an objectivity
Gained from history that the first soap

Had the letters R.J.F
While the second
Was marked R.I.F.

That nowhere in the German language
Is Reinjudenfett grammatically correct
And if I tell you now that R.I.F. stands for

Reichsstelle für Industrielle Fettversorgung
The Centre for Industrial Supplies of Fats
To the Reich – which nowhere mentions

Human sources, Jewish or otherwise –
You will see
There are inconsistencies

And with the cynicism
Of scientifically trained minds,
With a smirk or a wry smile,

You want to say
We now know
To make soap from humans

Is an almost impossible thing to do,
I concede
But in every generation

There are magicians
Who are able to do this
And similar things …

And let me add
The burden of proof
Was as light at Nuremburg

For the existence of the gas
Chambers as it was for
Human soap, that is

Impossible to bear.
So finally
Weigh in your mind

In your imagination
The child, the adult
Nearest you, beside you

Touch him or her gently
Or even pinch them
Not to wake them up

But to feel their density.
A woman or a girl will have
Slightly more essential fat –

An amount necessary
For maintenance of life and
Reproductive functions –

Than a boy or a man
Even if she’s worn out
Worn down to a sliver

Knowing it to be her equal her sister
Could you take and use
If by a magic trick or a rumour

I could give in to your hand you
I’ve told that they made from her
This small sweet-smelling thing?