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

Silence ~

He saw the kapo slam her head
With the flat side of a shovel
And now she lay there, dying.

Merton had been condemned
To bystanding in silence
But vowed, on seeing that
To defy them every minute,
Every second remaining him,
By crying out into violence.

They threw him in a cell,
Alone, to make sure
Their rituals of murder
Kept working on schedule.

But there his silence blared out
Even louder than his outcries
They thought they had stifled.

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