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B.Z. Niditch

EUROPA


I.

Snow falling
the trains cannot locate
faint stars
cold unlocks what
we cannot witness
and Yugoslavia
will give 10,000
today new arrivals
from Salonika
in fiery vacuums
glassed in
between day and night
and Southern Germany
will turn over
in the hands of others
the French orphans
do-you-recall
shadows drying
in departure camouflages
before dawn
shrugging one's shoulders
on a cobbled road
a child is pushed
from the bilious car
smelling of flesh,
the shadows
are the eyes
the works
you forklift at home
somewhere
in Christendom
stop: the mercurochrome
on the cuts
are motionless black
crying colors
of your mother in a yellow dress
by the rivulets
landing in the thorns
of a bureaucratic cleansing
of emigration
Hungary must give up
20,000
begging your sad pardon
unaware sleeping,
and words, prayers
rise out of ash.

II.

In the dusk
of an exiled dream
between your toes
you cannot be murdered
more than circumstantially
dissembling rumors
even ignorance stammers
outside
the sunrise is enjoyed
school books
are carried
and feet are washed
towels prepared
for the German general staff.

III.

And after the gold
is removed
and the painting of Degas
and children
are sent away
and neighbors arrive
to take what is left
rummaging through sheets
wet with blood
and the menorahs
are melted down
and suicide pills are
exhausted
the war is declared holy
bombers topple
out of skies
and twenty-four houses
are no more
and hundred years
of civilization
is a faded copy
of burning books
in Bonn
and after the hair
is removed
for the dolls
the German general
wishes to give Helga
for Christmas
amid the bustle
of the Third Reich,
and you hold onto daddy
saying I believe
in perfect faith
and the smokestacks rise
on the unthinkable
in small towns
you cannot pronounce
and 20,000 are burnt
in Poland
and doctors perform
their experiments on women
and there are new chairs
only for Aryan symphony players
with Wagner performed
and Strauss waltzes
for an encore
and academicians teach
eugenics and the new Germany.

IV.

Somehow I can still smell
blood underneath
umbrellas in Berlin
over the dresses in Lyon
over the doorposts in Warsaw
from under the tracks
of the Munich railways
by the gnome dullness
of hotel suites in Brussels
over Swiss bank boardrooms
near all the European beer halls
by the incense at Notre Dame.


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