Auschwitz

Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland

I walk beneath the black iron gateway

Arbeit Macht Frei

Work Makes Us Free

And cold anger settles like mercury in my gut

Horror perches on my shoulder

whispers in my ear

as I walk the death-paths of millions

And I peep into the long low houses

that absolutely no one called home

Finally, I immerse myself into the hell of the gas chamber

I stand near the wall while the guides drone on

in casual tones about what happened here

I can’t blame them

How could they let themselves feel the grief

on every tour, quarter past the hour

But to my left, I hear a low mutter

“Mein Gott…”

I want to see the man beside me

to know that he suffers as I do

but I can’t take my eyes off the scratches in the wall

Nails dragging down the unyielding metal

No one heeding the cry, “Mein Gott!”

When I step out of that room

[They didn’t step out]

The sun is shining

Breaking through the clouds with perseverance

Was this the freedom they earned?

Clawing, screaming, gasping

into the sunny sky

Carried along as black smoke on the wind

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