Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Poem for Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  There are a variety of these kinds of days throughout the year.  Yesterday is the anniversary of the day that the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz.

I realized, as I looked through my poems, that I don't really use much imagery from the Holocaust.  I worry that I'll trivialize the horror, somehow.  Of course, you could make the argument that I don't have that worry with other atrocities.  Plenty of my poems have imagery and motifs from slavery, for example.

And it's not that I haven't been interested.  I remember reading Holocaust narratives from a very early age, although I wouldn't have called them such.  I was just thrilled at the idea of surviving in a hiding place or making a break for freedom.

Maybe it's because there are so many poets who have already done such a better job with the subject matter than I could hope to do.  One of my all-time favorites, John Guzlowski, has a great blog post which has a poem that's perfect for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Even though I celebrated International Holocaust Remembrance Day by not even realizing it was a holiday, I'll post a poem with similar themes anyway.  I can use the reminders contained in this poem.  It was first published in The Powhatan Review.  It also serves as a tribute to Pete Seeger, who died yesterday.  For more of a tribute, see this blog post on my theology blog.


Do not fear the apocalypse.
There are worse things than to be consumed
by the conflagration that claims
a generation. At least you know your part in history.

Do not count on the apocalypse.
You may be one of the lucky ones,
escaping genocide, only to face the oblivion
of old age, the greatest war criminal of all.

Do not embrace the apocalypse.
Cling stubbornly to the promise of resurrection.
Believe that even after nuclear winter,
Spring will thaw the ground.


Kathleen said...

Thanks for all of this, Kristin.

Maureen said...

Thank you for sharing your poem and for the link to John Guzlowski's blog. His poems take the air from the room; I find them deeply moving.