in a short space of time i have become consumed with the fires that consumed the twentieth century. the fires that ate away at humanity and all morality. the systems that tore lovers apart. mothers clutching their children became fodder for orgies of violence.
men hell-bent on blood. seeping and spreading all of it into the earth. the strewn corpses have become what seems like living memories. but they do not frighten me as much as the earth.
the earth and its endless capacity to devour all that pain, all that violence but not go crimson. we do not swim in scarlet waters. see magenta clouds. walk on a ruby-hued sand & dust. the orange of the fire barely fills our lungs. how has all this blood seeped into the earth & it does not break?
i am frightened by how in this century, perhaps in that one too. while one people is in crimson. others live in kaleidoscopes. others in rainbows. and too many in black and white- victim/perpetrator, ally/foe, colonised/ and those we will colonise. how can the earth not break?
i however am breaking, i cannot fathom what it is that leads us to war and genocide over and over again. it has shaken my belief in the wonders of the earth. or perhaps it has deepened my belief- now it is disbelief. a fire of disbelief at this dark magic burns my heart. and yet through my back there runs nothing but chills.
The poem above was in part a response to this image of from Ivangorod, Ukraine in 1942. As fascism has reared its head again, I have found myself compelled to understand it. In the documentaries, books and poems I have read, I found (as always)- the inability to truly account for the crimes that began with European expansionism in 1492, has left us in a cycle where we are doomed to repeat this cycle. As Nelson Maldonado Torres argues we are the lab rats of colonial modernity, doomed to repeat the same cycles. In writing this, I had hoped to make sense of the laboratory we live in. Wikimedia’s description of the photo: “Executions of Jews by German army mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) near Ivangorod Ukraine. The photo was mailed from the Eastern Front to Germany and intercepted at a Warsaw post office by a member of the Polish resistance collecting documentation on Nazi war crimes. The original print was owned by Tadeusz Mazur and Jerzy Tomaszewski and now resides in Historical Archives in Warsaw. The original German inscription on the back of the photograph reads, “Ukraine 1942, Jewish Action [operation], Ivangorod.”
featured image source: mil23