There’s a striking & poignant story – Lipstick - over at John Baker’s excellent blog. The Holocaust remains the touchstone for so many remarkable tales of damnation & redemption & this one – on the redemption end of the spectrum - is particularly affecting.
Recently, I’ve been tinkering yet again with a poem I wrote a long time ago after reading Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s autobiography, The Murderers Amongst Us.
SIMON WIESENTHAL LEAVES MAUTHAUSEN
Simon Wiesenthal leaves Mauthausen.
Is it spring or autumn? Birds are singing
rising from the wire in the long dawn rain.
Wiesenthal carries the bag the GIs gave him.
Smoking, they lounge in groups by their jeeps.
Maidens of war, they see all, know nothing.
Scorched earth, still warm. Maybe the victors
fired the villages, or the vanquished in retreat.
Ah, the villages, where they knew nothing,
where they toiled with their heads down
in the black wind. Now they group like cattle,
lost amongst their cottages, their hayricks burning.
Wiesenthal walks in a straight line, one foot
placed with calculated care before the other.
Something like rejoicing trips his heart
as he approaches, step by step, a horizon
owned by no one. He won’t look back.
The wire will bind his dreams until death
and towers will stand four-square at the corners
of everywhere he calls home and voices
will crack sleep in countless rooms, strange
and familiar. Israel will be raised on a raft
of bones .“It will survive me. But I must walk
in a straight line for as long as shadows fall”.