Charles Adès Fishman

EASTERN EUROPE AFTER THE WAR

Wisps of memory   ragged dips in the grass

A few years earlier, millions died in sub-zero
temperature    Stripped to their underwear,

they were whipped   beaten with fists
and rifle butts   their infants ripped

from their arms    Their prayers to God
changed nothing    Shot in the neck,

they were kicked   into ditch after ditch
Those still living clutched at prayer shawls

or thrice-blessed amulets   but their words
their tears   called down no power

Their deaths did not alter the sky, which continues
to shelter their murderers    The earth

that churned for days afterward has yielded nothing
but fragments    The years swept by, blurring

the landscape   though, on occasion, something
in humanity   twitched    A list of the names

of the missing   slipped from official fingers
and drifted into history    In Eastern Europe,

not a stitch was mended    The gash
in the abandoned universe   could not be healed

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