If they had thought themselves ready for what was yet to come
We, of now, can only pity them or petition
Such a virgin conviction for ourselves.
I look at her
Smiling at those who came to witness
The triumph of their love, vows and kisses exchanged;
That smile of hers caught by a sudden flash
The early art of photography blinded her with
But she gathered her wits fast I’m sure
Ushered the guests into the dining-room,
Kept herself resplendent all night.
When the naked, cold crowd united with her
Behind the heavy gas-proof door
That smile thickened and dispelled.
Crumbs of that smile still flicker in the Sun
Over the rye-fields around the chocolate box
Streets of Buchenwald.
A hundred pieces of flesh
That used to be the boy beside her
Hurled in a flash in all directions at once.
He is finally safe from the trouble
Of hunting rats for food in the confusion of trenches,
No longer needs to keep himself awake
For fear they got him first.
Did she really believe they would live to tell
Their grandchildren a tall tale of time past and witness
Our supersonic world of I-all and lack
Of integrity? Intense smell of never
trust the other saturates the air. Distant and cold
Is the hand that unfolds the image.