31 July 2018

Considering Anne Frank's Diary Again


Anne Frank's Diary (cropped)



Anne shows she was a bundle of contradictions—
in to out, out to in
when home was lost and only one safe place remained.

Anne asks ‘whether it wouldn’t have been better if
we hadn’t gone into hiding,
if we were dead now and . . . Let something happen soon. . . .” 1

Out of sight, behind the door of her cage 
she wrote silently “if
only there were no other people in the world.” 2

Can inner life be sanctuary enough to 
save questions without ink?
Will border guards issue journals with locked cages?

Imagine refugees recording their stories
three days before leaving
home, tucking their word processors into pockets—

Or leaving them in home computers and writing
more in between the lines
of the one book they carry with them all their lives.

Imagine Emmett Till’s diary of teenage
dreams and Michael Brown’s and
those of targets who forget danger just. this. once.

A bundle of contradictions, this gift of life
with full knowledge of what
tragedies we are capable of inflicting.

Tragedies we are capable of inflicting
but incapable of
bearinglive in this unspeakable history.

Pray we look straight into the eyes of the present  
to prevent victim hood
and disrupt sacrificial narratives.

Pray we contradict senseless displacement so no 
children face cruelty 
so children thrive in our safe and welcoming world.


For my prompt: Poets United Midweek Motif ~ 

"a bundle of contradictions" 

(from Anne Frank's last letter)




My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 

© 2018 Susan L. Chast



14 comments:

Sherry blue sky said...

Superlative. This iis wonderful to read and contemplate. Some refugees do write their books, once safe from the horrors they fled.The ones being written of these times may contain some chapters of surprise when they reach our shores.

Therisa's World said...

The tears that I shed, are in hope this dream becomes a reality, Susan.

Brother Ollie said...

I like the focus on present victims. That is often forgotten.

Sumana Roy said...

"Imagine Emmett Till’s diary of teenage / dreams and Michael Brown’s..." The lines brought tears. I so much appreciate the strength and power of the last two stanzas. Sad story of Anne Frank has not yet ended. I wonder will it ever end?

Gillena Cox said...

A deep provocative write Susan. My favourite stanza:

"Tragedies we are capable of inflicting
—but incapable of
bearing—live in this unspeakable history."

much love...

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

The children. I am so glad you brought the children into your poem. We tend to forget that Anne Frank herself was a child when she was sent to her death. And it's so easy to forget the children who have been put in cages and will die a thousand deaths before they are old men and old women.

annell4 said...

A wonderful write!! Thanks so much Susan.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is such an exquistely reflective write, Susan! I love "Can inner life be sanctuary enough to save questions without ink?" 💞

Kim M. Russell said...

I like the way you've put yourself in Anne's shoes in this poem, Susan, especially in the questions:
'Can inner life be sanctuary enough to
save questions without ink?
Will border guards issue journals with locked cages?'
I also like the way you link Anne's experience to that of modern-day refugees, and the lines:
'A bundle of contradictions, this gift of life
with full knowledge of what
tragedies we are capable of inflicting'.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Deeply thought-provoking.

Thotpurge said...

Totally second that last prayer.. may it reach the right ears.
Tragedies we are capable of inflicting
—but incapable of
bearing— so true.. look around and see what we've become... wonderfully written!

Cressida de Nova said...

Suffering is present all around us. Although the WW2 holocaust probably is the pinnacle of the worst horror. Anne Frank said that people were mostly good. We are supposed to be made in the image of God. Something has gone horribly wrong.

Romana Iorga said...

Heartbreaking, these lines:
"Can inner life be sanctuary enough to
save questions without ink?
Will border guards issue journals with locked cages?"

How do people not learn from their past mistakes? I'm hoping that years from now, this shameful historical moment we live in will have served as a deterrent for more atrocities...

purplepeninportland.com said...

Nothing stung me more than 'tragedies we are capable of inflicting yet incapable of bearing.' The idea of those emigrants writing the daily suffering in a journal, is something I keep going back to. What a fabulous poem ,