Poetry / March 2017 (Issue 35)

Moabit District, Berlin

by Reid Mitchell

This poem is dedicated to Hans Buch 
the Moabites saw the water
on the other side
as red as blood

Hans walked me behind the long, brick church
to the graveyard, hidden by low walls,
the ground black mud, brown grass, green lichen.

Here his neighbors reburied a Gestapo-murdered German.
In his pocket soldiers found a bloody manuscript,
his Moabit sonnets.

Here too are buried children,
women, men, most unknown,
slaughtered in cellar and attic
in the last places of refuge they sought
those last few days when the Red Army
fought in the suburbs
with Hitler self-slain in the bunker.

Hans translated, slow, the poem
mounted at the cemetery gate. 'It was—
it is a word that means a vision
—not, Reid, a healthy vision.'
'Delirium?' I said, and he said,
'When delirium mastered this land.'

 Reid Mitchell is the author of the novel A Man Under Authority and numerous poems, some of which have been published in Cha. He teaches in China.
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