Can there be a god after Auschwitz?
Could there have been a god before,
Yet what rained down in sooty droplets if not his children?
Falling, those ashes as if spread in remembrance,
On my shoulders and cap
And I brush them away.
Yes, I brush them away.
Through the wire I see a man in faded pajamas;
He looks like the Christ Jesus carved in the tympanum of Saint-Lazare
I shiver and brush away the ashes
And hold my rifle a little tighter.
Yes, that is the side I would have chosen;
All those millions dead and avars rippling outward,
The child’s voice silenced perhaps forever,
A weight of guilt even death cannot relieve so that it passes to the soul of Faust,
I would not have seen it.
The twisted vedic hymn would have rung in my ear like bells announcing the approach of the lord,
And I would have ran to join his procession
What was it we,
Were looking for in the pockets of those we lead to the ovens?
Was in jealousy that curled in our hearts,
Esau striking down the brother he might have embraced?
Or did we think they held from us some secret wealth
Offered to our enemies when our back was turned?
Whatever we imagined, surely it perished in the heat and the fire.
So who is it that asks,
‘What god could have survived those flames?’
They who stood before the fiery furnace and now rest in sheol and canaan?
No, their god has delivered them from all our machinations
And freed them for all time from our choking grasp.
No, it is our god who never lived to die,
And what falls in the ashes upon us is his last revelation
My peace with you, for tomorrow I shall be in Rome
I’ve had Caiaphas put in chains, I too was crucified
Sing me a new song: the world is transfigured and all the heavens are joyous
I now come as Dionysus victorious, who will prepare a great festival on earth