Auschwitz, All Hallows

Cyrus Cassells

Look, we have made
a counterpoint

of white chrysanthemums,
a dauntless path

of death-will-not-part-us petals
and revering light;

even here,
even here

before the once-wolfish ovens,
the desecrating wall

where you were shot,
the shrike-stern cells

where you were bruised
and emptied of your time-bound beauty—

you of the confiscated shoes
and swift-shorn hair,

you who left,
as sobering testament, the scuffed

luggage of utter hope
and harrowing deception.

Come back, teach us.
From these fearsome barracks

and inglorious fields
flecked with human ash,

in the russet-billowing hours
of All Hallows,

let the pianissimo
of your truest whispering

(vivid as the crunched frost
of a forced march)

become a slowly blossoming,
ever-voluble hearth

revealing to us
(the baffled, the irresolute,

the war torn, the living)
more of the fire

and attar of what it means
to be human.

Last updated September 26, 2022