WITNESS THIS ARMY


Majdanek 1945 Polish civilians and Russian soldiers

Majdanek 1945 Polish civilians and Russian soldiers

During the interval, after act three

of Glinka’s opera, ‘Ivan Susannin’ –

pre-revolution, ‘A Life for the Tzar’ –

Stalin would leave his box at the Bolshoi.

In the fourth act, Ivan, the peasant, lures

the Polish Army out of Smolensk

and into a profound, winter forest.

They are lost. In the last act, they kill him.

Deep in the Katyn woods near Smolensk, pines

darkened the clearing where thousands, thousands

of Polish officers turned to earth.

So many crimes unpunished, dead unnamed.

‘O, Polnische Kamerad, wo sind

der Juden?’ ‘Majdanek, Chelmno, Oswiecim.’

An epoch has the tyrants it preserves,

even for an eggshell.

 

 

 

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