Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Visiting Dachau

Dizzy with dreams we drop into a time
Where no dreams were: this stretch of bitter stone
Where the soulless aridity of scorn
Screams at the anguished, “Now you are alone!”

“What is a man?” The wind, so cold, so spare,
Pierces with mocking questions the great void
Between our sweet reality and theirs;
Thus are our bright illusions crushed, destroyed.

What separates us? Sixty seven years,
An educated nod to being kind,
A literature and a geography:
The comfortable counties of the mind.

But what unites us blows with bitter teeth
Across those counties. I and they are one
In all our fumbling, broken, human fear,
In what we dream, and what we leave undone.

As vulnerable as they, but not as brave,
I stand diminished, and I stand in tears,
Yearning their courage as I fear their pain,
Knowing that no attrition of the years

Must dim their story. At the chapel door
One crown of thorns says all that we can say:
The crucified stands with the least of these
And strips our false self-images away.

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