CAPTAIN ALEX KEISCH 
Holocaust Refugee / Motivational Lecturer

(804) 399-9552
Six Million Miles
By Wendy Andersen
Copper, copper, copper, copper, copper.

We stroked the slick hot rails and laid bright pennies
down on the tracks ahead of speeding trains,
shoved magically flattened streaks,
smeared smooth and faceless,
in small fists toward the summer sun’s blank stare.

Copper, copper, copper, copper, copper.

Spring earth was in the air when my friend Alex
took me to the Holocaust Museum.
He and his twin were born in Plaszow camp,
fueled by the labor marched from Krakow’s ghetto.
Now he’s a docent, urging all, “Remember.”

On the suburban streets I’d walked that morning
a penny lay among crushed cherry blossoms.
In childhood days, found pennies
brought good luck.
I picked it up and put it in my pocket.

Inside museum doors, low boxes met us, 
spilling out their pennies to the floor,
each disk a life lost in the Nazi death camps,
still not enough, still not enough for all
the faces, and the minds, and hearts still calling,

​who’d died in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau,
Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald.
A boxcar stood on rails, and all those boxes
of pennies by the millions at the door,
eyes of the dead, still staring and uncoined.

I slid my tiny penny to the pile.
We stared at pictures pushing in around us
of soldiers, dogs, and families stretched in lines,
of mass graves dug in earth of Polish schoolyards.
Then Alex breathed this out:

“I’m finally home here.”
Copper, copper, copper, cop, cop. Chnnnn.
At home,
where screams ring out from neutral metal,
Alex leaps aboard the hurtling train.

Captain Keisch took Vermont author, WENDY ANDERSEN, on a tour of the Virginia Holocaust Museum (VHM) at 2000 E.Cary Street in Richmond, VA.  At the end of the tour he asked her and others on his tour to empty their pocket of pennies to put into the collection which the VHM hopes will one day equal the numbers of those Jews murdered in the HOLOCAUST:  SIX MILLION.  She emptied her pockets, went home and then contributed this poem.