Diane Thiel
We like to think we would have been
Hans or Sophie Scholl, scattering
anti-Reich leaflets for our lives.

We like to think we would have given
our homes, our future children
for the safety of our neighbors.

We like to think we never could have owned slaves
or better yet, that we were abolitionists.
We never would have paid a factory death wage.

We never would have sat at bulging tables
while the potato famine harvested the villages
or packed people into coffin ships.

We hear of every trail of tears:
The only good Indian is a dead Indian
How could the people come to thatsolution?

And then we close our newspapers, somewhat
aware of what our investments might support,
disturbed to be reminded, in the news, or in a poem.

We might quietly recognize ourselves
when we hear that all it takes for evil
to triumph is for good people to do nothing

And yet go home to our lives and our Silence,
that true rough beast, hiding in the hole
of our full bellies

so easily convinced there is nothing
we can do. And each of us continues to dream
of having been willing to give anything

at that moment in history, of having been,
at the very least, an active resister. We were all
the heroes in someone else’s war.


Diane Thiel, the author of Echolocations (2000) and Writing Your Rhythm (2001), has two books forthcoming in 2004: The White Horse: A Colombian Journey (creative nonfiction) and Resistance Fantasies (poetry). She is on t

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