Tension remains beneath the skin
and most of us did not sleep well last night.
Rats are one of the few things not cruel here
and none of us will ever eat another’s pet.
This morning the sun boiled into a blue sky,
the temperature cool, a slight breeze sweeping
the sweat away from our skin. In the distance,
thick smoke from the factories, lines of trains,
and always sighs of anger. (We have learned
to silence our pain.) Every morning we look
for liberators, every afternoon we wonder
if anyone even knows we’re here. One day
we will escape from this place still able to forgive
because in forgiving we remain human
unlike the pretend men surrounding us,
men who know nothing of humanity.
I will tell my children it was a hard war
made harder for those of us unarmed,
for those of us who loved peace.
I will tell them when we were liberated,
everyplace I lived I left a room open for forgiveness,
but could never build a space large enough
for forgetting. We must be able to forgive
if we wish to remain human, but we must also
never forget—this too is a human trait.