Poetry

July 23, 1942
by Cal Benson

1
77 years ago today
was a Thursday,
the day of the week
named for Norse god Thor
wielding his lethal hammer.

2
77 years ago today
a Bulgarian poet,
Nikola Vaptsarov,
barely thirty,
was executed
that Thursday night
for being Communist.

3
77 years ago today,
the Treblinka
extermination began
in Poland, east of Warsaw,
in two buildings
with 10 gas chambers,
each holding 200 Jews,
2000 bodies then
burned in open pits
on a Nazi Thursday.

4
Such death,
such violence
on the Thursday
I was born.
Does such death
accompany every birth?
Or am I special?
Am I unique ?

5
77 years ago today
it was 84 degrees,
in South Dakota,
comfortable for July,
just after the depression,
just after dustbowls;
but it must have been
hot in maternity then,
no air conditioning then.
And I didn’t cooperate,
I didn’t choose to be born.
I gripped her hip bones,
resisted, wrestled, fought,
but she didn’t die,
and I didn’t die
and I was born into WWII,
77 years ago today.

6
And who died to
make room for you?

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