For Holocaust Memorial Day


Ash Flower  (after Anselm Keifer)

The dead, who are thinner than gas,
might fit comfortably in their millions
in a simple cardboard box.

So why this desolate hangar?
Ankle-deep in guano and plaster-dust,
quiet as a sick forest –

(was Buchenwald once really a forest?)
Trees, acid-stripped and skeletal,
grow down out of a broken pane of sky.

Why has he painted such a mighty space?
Must we fit in there with them?
The millions whose last words

were a scrabbled cunieform on the inside
of the heavy chamber doors,
thickest where the handle should have been?