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.