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
Hoess and Himmler ~
At the same time as Hoess and Himmler
Were squinting in through peepholes
At naked women gasping, and then
After gas had started hissing softy
From tiny openings inside the chamber,
Thomas stood looking out a window
And saw a bird
With one bloated eye
And a broken wing
Staring in at him,
Making him fix his eyes on it
From then on he felt himself
Bearing the marks
Of that wounded bird.
He knew now the Christ
Whom he must reveal.