Oppressors know the value of our vanity.
It is a fragile thing,
Often clothed with flimsy layers
worn against exposure.
To snatch away these trappings
is a calculated act
by a malign aggressor,
intent on degrading those already doomed.
There was a concentration of humiliation
at the camps before the gassing.
Prisoners are routinely numbered nameless.
To strip a man
renders him pathetic.
He will shrink instinctively
to hide his nakedness
and his tormentors will strut more confidently
in the pressed uniforms and flowing robes of state.
do not subscribe to ritual degradation.
Instead, we smooth with balm
another’s wounded dignity,
when flayed by savage words,
offering a dressing for their cruel excoriation.
But we do nothing for this man.
Yet, as they tear his covering
and expose him to their leering,
we see his nakedness is nothing to flinch from.
It is a gift.
He stands quite passive,
a man with none of Adam’s shame.
He displays no scorching embarrassment
for his pure humanity has nothing to conceal.
Suddenly we know
that to stand
naked before God
need never again mean wretchedness.