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Hedley, Leslie Woolf: A Jew Returns to Germany

Portre of Hedley, Leslie Woolf

A Jew Returns to Germany (English)

My feet touch these cobblestones
and I suddenly sense a cry from bodies
buried somewhere underneath.
But I must control my mind. I must move
as a ghost among six million forgotten ghosts.

I sniff the country like a man
hunting for his lost home,
and I suffocate ashamed to be alive.
Irony plants European guilt in me.

I feel like the last man
an a betrayed planet. I feel as though
the atmosphere is clogged with names
begging for their tombstones. I must control
my breathing for fear of inhaling
too many souls of murdered Jews.
My lungs are too fragile for such crimes.

I must behave as one newly resurrected.
But should I act the part of Christ?
Must a Jew become a Christian god again?

I will search German faces for some sign
or fleck of blood. I will look into their eyes
and watch for shadows of concentration camps.
There must be some memory that wrinkles the skin
or paints the pupil with a taint of shame.

But the avenues are clean, the parks tidy,
students study how to be German,
restaurants sell Coca-Cola, waiters eagerly serve
even wandering Jews who somehow survived,
and history has quickly washed the haunted air
until even existing phantoms are invisible there.

Uploaded byP. T.
Source of the quotation