REPETITIONS OF OSWIECIM
Oswiecim is the original name for the town
later called by its German referent (Auschwitz).
The original name has since been reinstated.
We could not cry here.
A dry land in a fertile field.
History a dry land always.
We could not cry here
and there are porcupines
in our throats. Oswiecim.
Each time we watch the story,
chewed bread chokes us.
Dry-eyed. Each time history
a slow accretion of details.
A slow accretion of silence we
could not cry. Numb magnitude. Eyes
hovering over the book and the map.
A parched country, the mirage of it. Oswiecim.
Open days, we dress in our lives.
Shirts buttoned at the windpipe.
Wrapped nights we go flying, go
anywhere into chronology, drummer
in our wrists, blue veins mapping
the skin—thus tattooed—a dry land
welling—Oswiecim—details of wings
hovering, details of thresholds
in ageing photographs
and the shadows
of doors. Pale ashan rising. Still
picture of a heavy door edging
closed or open. Barbed
ironflake, parchment, ash.
The name of a town
and the name of a town again.
Crust of bread.
Nicholas Samaras is the author of Hands of the Saddlemaker, a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the Lilly Endowment Foundation. He serves as the poetry editor for The Adirondack Review, and his work has appeared in various publications, such as The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, New Republic, Kenyon Review, and Image.