Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Hero, A Young Man, and An Old Poem

St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic priest, took another prisoner's place in the starvation bunker at Auschwitz, where he died on August 14, 1941. As he stepped forward from the line up, he spoke clearly to the camp officer, "I am a Catholic priest. I will take that man's place."

This is a poem that I wrote 23 years ago today.

August 14th

I am the guardian
of the flesh and blood that I command.
I stand
from world's edge to windowless walls,
the quarry-block place markers
around my becoming-all-things.
I am a mother's graceful, sweet breath
like fine, penetrating mist
against your broken, burned skin.
I am the witness
stepping out of place
beyond the trembling assembly
of bony finger-clutched this-moment,
toward the timeless returning unto dust of you
and you
and you.

step forward...
                           ...out of place
for I am
your sacrifice.

--August 14, 1989