Playing jacks was all she would do.
Occasionally the doctor
would step on a jack. He
always picked them up
and returned them to
the little girl. Every time,
he noticed her hands seemed
colder than the pointed metal.
She gradually lost them all
despite his efforts to find them.
Small rocks from gutters
proved to be adequate substitutes--
they were easier on feet as well.
When she lost the pink rubber ball,
the only thing for her to do was sleep.
The guard knew what he was doing.
About Janusz Korczak
Janusz Korczak was an elderly doctor who cared for countless children at an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto. Born Henryk Goldzmit in 1878, Korczak first made a name for himself in Poland as a pediatrician, writer, and children’s rights advocate. Korczak would later change his name to shield himself from the growing anti-Semitism of the time. He wrote autobiographical novels at the turn of the century as well as founding the first children’s newspaper, The Little Review, and he had a radio program as “the Old Doctor.” Later, he gave up his medical practice to establish the first progressive orphanages in Warsaw. From that point until the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Korczak wrote about children and for children. Korczak was 64 when he began writing Ghetto Diary (Yale University Press: New Haven (CT), 2003). Refusing numerous attempts at freedom, Korczak died with his children at Treblinka.