. . .That Lies Under the Trees by the Airport in Berditchev, Ukraine
The Jews are gone. After they were led to their graves,
they were stripped and stood firmly rooted to the earth.
The soldiers had told a little boy that the bread did not matter,
“You and the bread will become one in the earth.” He fled,
naked, and scared, and never left that village where he still
bakes his bread. Berditchev, it is called. Life goes on there.
The faces stare out at me behind their bullet-ridden glass.
Memory plays tricks on me, distorts even their year of death:
Was it 1941? Or 1961? I know you told me that vandals
snuck into the Jiddische cemetery and shot at their faces—
even your own eyes widened at the horror of it, the disgrace,
the defacing—their eyes frozen in time, locked on the camera.
Those refugees came back to a village having seen, and heard,
their parents’ horror. Berditchev, it was called.
The wind that turns the windmill sings for them,
for the Jews of 1941, villagers once, whose hushed presence
belies the deeper roots, the real truth beneath the trees.
Ohne Lügen, without lies.