The People in the Chimney and The Perfect Mothers by Donya Kowalski

Donya’s Poem The People in the Chimney and her essay The Perfect Mothers

 Donya Noudoshani Kowalski is an 8th grade student at St. Mary of the Lakes in Medford, New Jersey. In the fall of 2016, she plans to enter Bishop Eustace Preparatory School which is located in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

 In my opinion, her poem, The People in the Chimney, is powerfully insightful regarding the German people and its un-forgetful and un-forgiving twentieth century crime against humanity – The Holocaust: the genocide of millions of Jews, Slavs, and Roma. The Germans always considered these three groups as the untermenschen – the sub-humans.

 What we see in Donya’s poem and essay is humanity. Humanity appears to be a characteristic which is sorely lacking in the Germanic psyche.


 The People in the Chimney

By: Donya Kowalski


Darkness overtakes Auschwitz

as people in striped pajamas filled the camp


The smoke of my people

filled the once clear sky


I look out past the barbed wire

at the world I used to live in


I push a wheelbarrow full of dirt

and imagine that I am doing yard work


As the list of numbers for the showers was being called

I heard

Vier und fünfzig drei hundert ein und neunzig

My life

was going to go up a chimney


The German guards barked orders

The people in the striped pajamas

marched to the shower


Thousands of us squeezed into the chamber

The door was bolted shut


The gas began to fill our lungs

We slumped over into piles


We did not deserve this fate

We did not deserve to end our life

by going up a chimney

We did not deserve to be killed like

an infestation of bugs

We did not deserve this at all  


The Perfect Mothers

By: Donya Kowalski

           All my life my mom has gone to the ends of the earth to make me happy. When my best friend passed away, I was devastated. My mother knew exactly what I needed to hear. Mary shared the same maternal instinct with her son. Mothers always know what their children need. Mary knew that Jesus needed her to stay by his side and my mom knew I just needed a hug from her.

My mother has shown her endless love for me all my life. When I get sick, she cares for me. My mom brings me food and medicine and helps me to feel better by simply loving me. If I am scared, she will embrace me in a tight hug. I automatically know that she loves me so much that she wouldn’t let anything hurt me. Mary showed the same love to her son, Jesus. As he was carrying the cross that he would soon die on, Mary followed by his side. Mary loved her son so much that she stayed with him through his suffering. I see that same love from my own mother.

When I have doubts that I am able to do anything, my mom encourages me to do my best. She knows that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. The night before the entrance exam for high school, I became very worried. Thoughts of not being accepted filled my mind. Without me saying a word, my mother could tell I was worried. She told me she knew I would do great and that I had nothing to worry about. I knew that if she thought I could do it, then I really would do well. Like my mom, Mary encouraged her son. Even though Jesus did not feel ready to perform his very first miracle, Mary knew he was ready. Jesus changed water from a well to an abundance of the best wine at a wedding with help from his mother’s encouraging words.

My mom is patient with me when she asks me to do my chores. I usually respond with, “I will do it in a minute.” My mom knows that I really mean that I am not going to do my chores. She is patient with me and calmly tells me to do them. After a while, I give in and do them. Without my mom’s patience, she would have a hard time when I need to do chores. When Mary and Joseph were leaving Jerusalem after the Passover, they discovered that Jesus was missing. They searched everywhere for him. Mary was patient and did not get mad at Jesus when they found him sitting in temple with the teachers. That took a lot of patience and bravery not to worry about Jesus.

Out of all the people I know, my mom is the bravest one. She always manages to smile, no matter what the situation. When my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mom went with her to all of her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After spending a long day at the hospital with my grandmother, she would come home with a smile. Although my grandmother was going through harsh treatments, my mother made sure I knew everything would be alright. Like my mom, Mary was also brave. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, she took on a great challenge. The angel told her that she would be the mother of God’s son. She knew it would be tough, but Mary accepted it.

I am so grateful to have a mother as loving as mine. She always believes in me and I know that she will always keep me safe. I see Mary in my mom everyday. Mary loved her son so much that she stayed by his side during his suffering. She was brave enough to take the challenge of being his mother. Both my mom and Mary are the perfect example of a mother who would do anything for their child because they care about them so much.