Lennart Lundh

Stalingrad

 

Your sightless statue children

dance around the twisting frog

(Your children around the Nazi:

Will it be?

The railroad station burns.

You cannot be sure.).

They will always do so,

barring shellfire in the snow.

 

I see you in my mind

(it is here I hear you),

and in the photographs:

The dust

has turned to cold,

the yellow waters of your ancient name

are red,

but not the red that burns your very skies.

This is the red of men,

of broken sticks

shot from behind a rubbled wall.

It is for this red the bells are tolling:

Russian and invader,

the bells are tolling

and the toll rises:

As the days come on it rises,

and some of your children will dance no more.

 

Stalingrad,

men will praise you

and men will praise your enemy:

As he did with the attack,

so with the liberation:

A horse lies frozen in the street.

In war, the siege and liberation are one.

And your dancing, laughing children

will always hear the flames

above the laughter of the frog.

 

The Camps

 

Up past Barstow

and behind barbed wire,

to the mud and frozen mud

(if they would talk to you,

if they would hear your question,

they would no doubt answer

only this):

Grandson, tired of the waiting,

and the stillness without toys,

resting on his mother’s father’s back

(good grandfather, you are tired of the waiting,

and the stillness without peace).

 

Young girls, I see your picture:

Eight or nine years old,

the future Yellow Evil

to be beaten by internment

up past Barstow

while your brothers

help reconquer Europe.

(This is a progression:

It is in a photo

on another page:

At this point is the schoolroom

and the pledge to a flag

you know you can’t hold.

Your separate faces:

Smiling on the left

and pausing,

uncertain in frightened sadness,

on the right.)

 

Rouen, 30 mai 1431

 

Joan is so terribly tired.

She’s been at war too long,

been hearing God-sent voices

guide her future even longer.

 

Her countrymen have turned away,

for now no longer needing her.

The English, less trusting of God,

want her removed from the scales.

 

The charge is heresy, so death by fire.

There will be no strangulation,

no relative mercy from the executioner.

She has no money for friends’ sachets.

 

Joan longs to weep upon the stake

like an exhausted lover mourning

the loss of innocence, but stands tall.

She won’t add self-treason to the charge.

 

Rising from the smoke of obscurity,

she will fall obscured by smoke.

Once entered by the fiery light of saints,

she will make her exit in the light of fire.

________________________________________________________________

Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965. Len and his wife live in northern Illinois, where he manages text acquisitions for a university.

 

 

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