Cousins I Never Met
Fire burns down the entire forest
but still one flower thrives. The moon’s
silhouette against the sky reminds me
yes, we are still alive. We ran and walked
through yesterday’s parade. You thought
the kite you ran with on the sand could
fly up to the night-imprisoned moon. My cousins, too,
(all gone too soon) watched this same light
in Germany as night-time, day-time prisoners in
rooms fit for two or three, not fifty.
Two years ago we let go of white balloons
at the newborn’s funeral. Five days
he lived. Son, nephew, brother. Five days. We looked up
until white globes blurred into white clouds.
Devoured. We throw rocks at death both now
and then. Still death stays with you and me hours,
months, through years of lingering. Remember
Painting the German Shepherd thick
with tomato juice to release the stink,
oh, that stink, it lingers. Oh, this scent
of death too. Stink of burning flesh
I have heard about it, read about it.
Lamp shade flesh they whisper in the halls.
Now walk with me inside
the burned down forest, take in the sweet
perfume of one flower reaching up
to the sun and moon. My relatives made it
through until the final hours and then
and then. Aushwitz, final hour. The end
when release could be tasted, sulphur burning
on His defeated tongue. Fuhrer fury. The end arrived
when release could be swallowed from the air
so close, and yet. Their blood, our blood waters
burnt soil. We plant new seeds. We march forward.
Leaves stagger into the grass, drunk
on freedom and the breeze.
We have all fallen
from branches before.
We graze on grass
and fat, lazy raindrops.
Nothing is left
but the white rind of time.
Home is wherever we land.