Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a contemplative monk who spent 27 years inside the walls of a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. Only in his last year was he permitted to travel at any length. Even though he was never at Auschwitz this poetry places him there so as to let a generous sensitivity and tenacious faith like his respond to this horrendous calamity. Merton stands for all those who, in the light of Auschwitz, ask the question: where was God, and in so asking expose their belief to severe trial. Merton's struggle with this question was lived out elsewhere. Only the location has been shifted in the poetry that follows.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Friend ~

As Thomas watched
He saw a tattered terrier
Run up to the gate and bark,
Saw an officer in black
Walk over to it, draw his pistol
And shoot it between the eyes.

Then turning to the waiting line
He saw an old woman sobbing,
Whereupon he walked back
To the dog, picked it up
And flung it at her full-force
Blurting out: God damn you,
Yiddish mother-bitch.

Thomas watched her fall
Heard her head crack
On damp asphalt,
And kneeling beside her
Heard her beg
"Dog, my dog"
Before her final gasp.

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