Cold now are the fires that smoked real
Lives to choke sweet forest air.
Still the rancid taste of human
Cruelty fills the buildings there.
Terrified, we turn away our
Thoughts, or blindly stop and stare:
Helpless in the gaze of haunted
Children in tough soldiers’ care,
Sick to tears to think that those who
Stoked the flames had human hearts:
Human hearts and minds and bodies
As they pushed the dead in carts.
Chimneys puncture clouds and scream
Of school kids taught to hate,
Masking acts of humbling kindness
Bravely hid behind that gate.
People gave their only warmth, their
Last crust, or a smile,
Just to help another to
Survive a little while.
Even in the deepest horror,
Love found ways to sing her song,
Urging us to speak with courage
When we feel that things are wrong.
Auschwitz holds a mirror to the
Worst and best of human ways,
Standing tall and calling us to
Kindness: now, and all our days.