The Breendonk concentration camp is embraced
by a freeway and a suburb. It looks like a fairy
tale castle, but nature is a cover-up I follow
walk into the first corridor. Silence is a monster
my footsteps echo, filling it’s belly it is hungry.
The audio guide tells me that noise was a way
of life the clatter of boots, beating, beating,
beating, dogs barking. Life is a glass and
the screaming can shatter it, but now there
is silence and I can feel it on my skin
it is too loud. The click of my camera’s
shutter, shudders like a half-remembered
Most firing squads would miss
humanity shaking through their fingertips
and the commandants enjoyed killing
too much, taking lives with their own
fingertips. It is so quiet here.
And in the silence we forget. On Holocaust
Remembrance day my Facebook feed is more
concerned with Sloths than with Yom Hashoa.
Maybe, memory is slow and it has yet to catch
up to us, but silence eats memory.
At the Boneville damn museum, I stand
in front of blankets in glass cases, the sign
reads, gifts for the Indians. Maybe, we think
that silence is a gift to let something rest peacefully
is not a gift it is a deaf sentence.
We teach ourselves factual inaccuracies
to avoid hearing the thing that we don’t want
to ask ourselves. What would I do if I was
Fact, fear was not a factor for bystanders
most people benefitted greatly from the murder
like America benefitted from the slaughter
of the Indians, like the sugar barons benefitted
from writing a constitution without Hawaiian
recognition. People didn’t do anything
because they didn’t want to.
Fact, if the number of words in this poem
devoted to rescuers was proportional
to the number of bystanders. They would
receive one word. That word is choice
It is a choice to forget. It is a choice to walk
down that hallway. It is a choice to be a hero.
It is a choice to be a perpetrator. It is a choice
The earth has bandaged itself in green
and filled its arms with tears, but we
just see beauty. We cannot understand
that we are the scars.
Humanity is a scar. We are the only
evidence of every war crime. We are
the only record of every person that died
We are the silence, we are the noise.
Noise once shattered people at Breendonk
Today silence shatters them again.
When we do not remember our voice
sound like Krystallnacht, when remain
silent our footsteps smell like ash.