came to Auschwitz
where 1.1 million,
mostly Jews, were
killed during WWII,
He was just a toddler then,
now the first pope of three
to visit this plot of anguish
who did not live in Europe
through the war.
He walked in silence,
passed the infamous
gate of past atrocity,
he prayed in silence
at the death wall, witness
to thousands shot by
Hitler’s SS henchmen,
he left in silence,
after two hours,
writing in Spanish
in the guest book of
the memorial site:
“Lord, have pity on your people.
Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”
Around the same time
there were other firsts.
The first woman nominated
by a major party in America,
a U.S. Navy vessel will bear
the name of an LGBT
activist Harvey Milk, a first,
a group of Afghan and Pakistani
migrants staged a hunger strike
at the Serbian-Hungarian border
which is closed to them, a first;
the first of something is always significant
The first baby, the first of the family to graduate college,
the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Recently Guinness announced
that the now oldest living man, Israel Kristal
is a Holocaust survivor, that is a first. Perhaps the
pope’s appeal for forgiveness should
be accorded him. If never asked
this could be yet another—first.
Author note: In thinking about the significance of all that has taken place in the past week or so while certainly the Clinton nomination, regardless of politics, is undeniably historic, I believe other weighty issues also come to bear on this recent news cycle, and I did not want these to be relegated to the sidelines, and one in particular, our response to which remains an index to our humanity.