I suffer from white guilt.
Not that I ever did anything to anyone or
that any of my direct ancestors did:
yeoman farmers, craftsmen,
wives birthing until they died or shriveled up,
living off the land, tilling the soil,
cutting the trees, planing the wood.
But maybe they did,
owned slaves, sold babies, separated families.
Or maybe there was only the acquiescence of acceptance,
the support for suppression of others
not of their tribe.
Maybe they were only ordinary Germans,
unknowing of the death camps
but aware of deportations,
of the vitriol and hatred,
of breaking glass and burning books,
of people no longer there.
How do you expiate a collective sin?
Not by burying it, forgetting it,
flying the flag of oppression.
When those who committed the sins are gone
and those who suffered are dead
and only the DNA, the blood, continues,
does the sin continue
from generation unto generation?
I think not.
Each generation has its own sins,
each individual his own culpability,
bred from what came before
as her own.