Living Is A Matter Of Hope

Dedicated to all those fighting the atrocious violence of Gordon Campbell and his government driven by the ideology of wealth and power for a few and increasing poverty for many.

* * *

On April 7, 1945,
allied armies approached
the Buchenwald concentration camp
in Germany.
Prisoners could hear the American guns, and
they hoped, oh, how they hoped.
Then the SS decided to move
five thousand men from the camp –
five thousand skeletons –
to hide them perhaps,
to kill them,
these ghosts that bore witness
to holocaust.
So began a twenty-one day nightmare –
fifty freight cars
one hundred men to a car
wandering aimlessly in Europe.

No hope now.
Starving, delirious men
shared a few potatoes
a bit of bread.
Sometimes the train
sat at a siding for days,
suspended between life and death.
About two men died
in each car every day, and
the dead were left beside the track.
Some men went mad
and pounded their heads
against the wooden walls.
Others, delirious with fever,
screamed for water.
The SS hit them with clubs
to restore quiet.
Then an SS officer
appeared at the top
of an open car,
his face contorted with hatred.
He fired his rifle
into the car
as though killing others
would kill his inner torment.
One prisoner was shot through the head,
and his blood and brains
splattered on those around him.
In spite of themselves, the others
were glad it wasn’t them.
They thought of the extra space
they would have
when the body was removed,
and they mourned their selfish thoughts
along with their dead comrade.

So time passed.
Men died of dysentery, exhaustion
and despair.
The world had become absurd.
On April 26,
as one more lay dying,
three of his brothers
from the Franciscan order
sat in silence beside him.
Slowly, as water trickles
from a hidden spring,
a song arose among them.
They sang the Canticle of Brother Sun,
written by Saint Francis,
and their voices touched the hearts
of the remaining three thousand prisoners.
“Glory…for the gift of your creation
for our brother the sun
for our sister the moon…”

They sang like
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego
in the fiery furnace,
and like Nazim Hikmet,
the Turkish poet
who spent many years in jail
because he loved justice, and
who wrote while in prison:
“Living is a matter of hope, my love.
Living is a serious business,
like loving you.”

~ Sandy Cameron

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