For Passover

In remembrance of all who suffer.

Traveling to Dachau
“Once they burn books,
they’ll end up burning people.”
Heinrich Heine

Like geese, tourists flock
to places of exhalation
for kernels of corn—
signs—
scattered after the soul is shucked—
initials carved in stone,
locket, tooth, chip of bone—
among exquisite instruments of torture
in towers, dungeons, camps.

Reluctant,
I find myself the dutiful son—
voices of mentors
gathering like thunder
through memory’s pages—
on the train,
on a rainy afternoon
in late October,
the last from Munich,
the stop, the waiting,
then the bus.

Gates locked,
I discover I was not informed
of the correct times,
not for winter,
when hours are short.

Hurled into the twentieth century
where all speeds up—
even the means to inform
where suffering happens now
and now and now—

as if pins crowded
all maps of the world—
I breathe more deeply,
hoping that I’ve done my duty,
tried to incorporate
more terror deemed important,
where light, like the sparrow,
again took flight.
©Thomas Ramey Watson

From my still unpublished collection, At the Axis of the West.