Tuesday, August 14, 2018

For Maximilian Kolbe: An Old Poem By a Young Man

This is a poem I wrote nearly 30 years ago, to commemorate the great love of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He offered his own life in exchange for another prisoner in a reprisal execution in Auschwitz, and died in the "starvation bunker" on August 14, 1941.

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