Anniversary

Let us not pray,
since prayer offers us
the comfortable exculpation
of piety. Let us not say, once again,
Never again: we have shown ourselves
incapable of honoring such oaths.

We kill. We kill in the hundreds,
in the thousands, in the hundreds
of thousands, in the millions.
We kill each other, our own species,
the human race. We have no excuse.

Let us not resort
to words: words have already
failed us, repeatedly,
and emptied of their meaning:
Atrocity. Depravity. Barbarism.
Inhumanity. God.
We cannot atone for our actions
with empty expressions of piety or regret.

So let us not speak today. Let us be silent,
and breathe, and acknowledge
who we are, and what we have done,
and grieve.

The Liberation of Auschwitz, January 27, 1945

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