The Photographer at Oswiecim
shorn like sheep,
bags piled miles high into an empty grave,
hunger and thirst soften resolve to live,
they sit for the photographer.
Desolate faces gaze blankly at him,
the thousands who will take the gas,
become puffs of smoke.
He records them with his photos.
They like to record, to museum victims
to hear Wagner in the primal scream of the innocent,
in their last photographs.
The photographer sees the pyre of Faces,
their engraved wavy expressions of fear.
He poses them to imprint their humanity--
skinny women in their oversized striped costumes, rakish caps he designs,
bald, naked women prepared to meet Mengele, their unmaker,
hollow-cheeked men clip-clopping in their ill-fitting wooden clogs,
trusting children who laugh uneasily at his jocular faces.
They all sit for his camera to record having been.
Their pictures keep the photographer alive--
extra pieces of bread,
meat occasionally thrown into the broth,
and shots of schnapps to bring on forgetfulness.
Testaments, he refuses to destroy when ordered.
Forgotten, guiltless faces peering back at him.
The camera burned his hands,
black and white pictures seared and left a hollow place.
No beauty in them,
but he could not destroy them.
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