Museum of Tolerance

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 01:31 -- ppadmin

The shirtless man by the ticket counter

 has already broken the gloom here, his crowd

  of two boys and the cashier with the Star of David

   gathered around and mouthing astonishment


as he tells the tale behind every scar.

 Yes, this one on the side was from the camp—

   he tells them not to be shy to ask—

    when he tripped into the ditch


on the run after stealing cigarettes,

 the one on the knuckle from punching the soldier

  in the bar, brave with whiskey, a decade after.

   Touch it, he snarls, jutting out his fist.


That split a real Nazi’s lip.

 In the rooms behind him, the voices lay low

  but touch is the rule, the extended families

   passing in fours and fives as tight


as at church or the carnival. Are they

 all survivors here, dazed and exhilarated

  by the fate that dropped them so far from blight?

   A father heads the line, shirt fat with muscles

...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

and a single proud thumb pushing the stroller;

 the woman and girl hug sideways, then again,

   tight as dancers in a row. At each display,

    the time lines and the whispered assurances

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

reiterate that what is done is done.

 Pol Pot is dead, the children of Kampuchea

  reading again to go to college; Rwanda

    has forgiven itself and opened supermarkets;


the ghettos are demolished, the Cold War won.

 Sudan, they skip. For now, the beasts are gone.

  They face the new life, the one after the mending,

   after the last mistakes were made.

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