by Bruce Morton
Holocaust Memorial, Berlin
It is a stretch to transform sorrow, ash, guilt—loss.
But the stelae are concrete, not abstract stars
Fallen in firmament, a hard grid that is buried
Like piles for a pier where conscience will dock
Or depart. It is intended to disorient in a maze.
I am amazed at the frolicking fools who gambol
From one to another, betting one footfall to the next
Will not suggest disrespect as they sit atop
Coffins or tombstones or whatever they are, not
Grave but laughing, licking their ice creams.
They are everywhere
Throughout the village
On the red tile rooftops
Anchored to flat spots
Next to steeple, chimney,
And gable, the nests bristle
With sticks and straw,
Serrated silhouettes, marked
By white guano arrows pointing,
Making a statement, we are
Up here. You are beneath us.
The storks nestle, incubating
Precious eggs that will carry
It is not every poem that begins
With an apology to Aristophanes.
So, here it is—I apologize.
For there is nothing funny about those
Frogs we left floating, their white bellies up;
Frogs bloating—quite croaked.
They had succumbed to a storm of BBs
Rained on them from Daisy rifles aimed,
Fired by addled adolescent testosterone.
Their chorus silenced, the humidity
Smothered Thurrrott’s Pond. Its algae rank,
A fetid buzzing broth in which they sank.
There was little sport in the killing;
In their dying not much thrilling;
Our absence of conscience chilling.
Now memory churns and hindsight yearns,
For relief from guilt and insight, knowing
That the climate has changed—and their silence.
About the Author:
Bruce Morton splits his time between Bozeman, Montana and Buckeye, Arizona with the occasional visit to Germany. His volume of poems, Simple Arithmetic and Other Artifices, appeared in 2015. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various magazines and anthologies including Kansas Quarterly, Connecticut Quarterly, Spoon River Quarterly, Pembroke Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, San Pedro River Review, and Main Street Rag.