Poetry

Herbert Woodward Martin

To the Memory of the Ten Million

How shall I regard these humiliations, 
these human punishments against the 
lives of so many who were counted and 
numbered on their arms so that their 
captors would know who and what they 
were if not their family names given 
them by their fathers and mothers. 
We have had scribes who were able to 
tell the stories of our lives, but never 
like the terrors which haunt sleep and 
the imagination. These are the dreams 
that make you sleepwalk, that make you 
turn and turn in the absence of reality, 
looking for a presence that has been 
gassed into a final memory for that is 
what you hold on to or gravitate towards, 
because dreams are redemptive and are 
the history that each of us shall tell to 
our surviving children when we shall 
trust ourselves to create and come 
unwittingly to love someone beyond 
our selves or construct a more civil 
way to survive.