The ancestors were überall
in East Germany and they were holidaying in her mind.
She’d invited them there, so it was your fault.
My fault—a favorite line of hers
disposed onto her by her source. The feelings
are too big, so she’ll whitewash them
as any white person does.
Let’s forget the past. It’s past.
At once a line
of great mercy from someone
like a shrink, and in the same moment, a line
of terrible Vergesslichkeit.
It’s something the Germans don’t do
very easily after the atrocities
they progenitor-ed. She was only
a little German
far-removed American, sort of—
so when she lauft on the Straßen
the dissonance tore her in two.
Am I one or both?
Complicit or duplicitous or political?
It felt Confucian and confusing.
She insisted on making her life
strange and complicated.
Was she a Verrückterin, a trickster
or just an idiot?
There you go again, going too far.
It was the voice
of her mutter again. The language
could be the problem at this point—that
and she kept forgetting her legs, kept forgetting
her endowment and facilities.
You are an idiot, a numbskull, a dummkopf—
Mother, shut up.
Somewhere between Templin and New Jersey
the loss obliterated her inheritance.
Her long-lost cousin
would help her remember.
She felt too stupid
to do it herself.
Halt deinen mund—
Unenlightened and ignorant.
MLK Jr. knew
to demand your freedom.
You wouldn’t even know
what to do with it.
She was waiting to be rescued
but she didn’t deserve it.
Her feet were yelling at her
wooden clogs on a cobblestone street
in the stench of summer.
were on their way. She didn’t want to lose
everything, but she was afraid
she would never amount to anything more
than a pumpkin.