Death Barged In
by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno
In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.
He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.
Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me.
by Taije Silverman
* a transfer [concentration] camp in the Czech Republic
We rode the bus out, past fields of sunflowers
that sloped for miles, hill after hill of them blooming.
The bus was filled with old people.
On their laps women held loaves of freshly baked bread.
Men slept in their seats wearing work clothes.
You stared out the window beside me. Your eyes
were so hard that you might have been watching the glass.
Fields and fields of sunflowers.
Arriving we slowed on the cobblestone walkway.
Graves looked like boxes, or houses from high up.
On a bench teenage lovers slouched in toward each other.
Their backs formed a shape like a seashell.
You didn't want to go inside.
But the rooms sang. Song like breath, blown
through spaces in skin.
The beds were wide boards stacked up high on the walls.
The glass on the door to the toilet was broken.
I imagined nothing.
You wore your black sweater and those dark sunglasses.
You didn't look at me.
The rooms were empty, and the courtyard was empty,
and the sunlight on cobblestone could have been water,
and I think even when we are here we are not here.
The courtyard was flooded with absence.
The tunnel was crowded with light.
Like a throat. Like a—
In a book I read how at its mouth they played music,
some last piece by Wagner or Mozart or Strauss.
I don't know why. I don't know
who walked through the tunnel or who played or what finally
they could have wanted. I don't know where the soul goes.
Your hair looked like wheat. It was gleaming.
Nearby on the hillside a gallows leaned slightly.
What has time asked of it? Nights. Windstorms.
Your hair looked like fire, or honey.
You didn't look at me.
Grass twisted up wild, lit gold all around us.
We could have been lost somewhere, in those funny hills.
And the ride back—I don't remember.
Why was I alone? It was night, then. It was still morning.
But the fields were filled with dead sunflowers.
Blooms darkened to brown, the stalks bowed.
And the tips dried to husks that for miles kept reaching.
Those dreamless sloped fields of traveling husks.