Jared Carter, “Gerstein Report”

Jared Carter’s most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in Morgantown, West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.

orange line

Gerstein Report

Kurt Gerstein, an ethically conflicted but subsequently
resistant Waffen-SS officer, describes a moment at Bełżec
extermination camp, in August of 1942, when a large group
of naked men, women, and children are being herded into
a gas chamber. A woman “of about forty years of age, with
flaming eyes, calls down vengeance on the head of the
murderers for the blood which is shed here. She gets five
or six slashes with the riding crop across her face from
Hauptmann Wirth, then she disappears into the chamber.”

Then she disappears into the chamber,
Lost beneath its waves – forsaken stranger,
       nameless witness, having spoken out for
       all the others, in a voice that soars –
Calls down vengeance, heedless of the danger.

Scornful of the measures to restrain her,
Unafraid at last, with proud demeanor,
       she turns about, to face a final door.
           Then she disappears.

Gerstein sabotages gas containers,
Seeks to warn; denounced as a complainer,
       dies mysteriously alone. All that shore
       is distant now, all quieted, that roar.
Waves erase whatever might explain her.
           Then she disappears.

 


 

 

 

One thought on “Jared Carter, “Gerstein Report”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s