Jan/Feb 1999 Poetry

Dating in Dachau, 1988

by Deanna Madsen Fogel


Dating in Dachau, 1988

The German tongue meets the hard palate then swells,
narrowing the pathway to Dachau.

We crumpled beneath twining metal
sculpture, barbed wire bodies. Our vision smeared,
our movement restricted by the concept of Camp.

Lauraís fingers swept the charted triangles and jumped,
stung by those we would have worn.

She helped me up and toward the squatting boxes,
the slatted wood beds fit for soil,
for vegetables, not people who slept, folded.

I spread my arms and hoarded air on our walk
past rows of concrete foundations to Barracke X,

to crematorium, disinfecting room, morgue.
Her hand slid into mine, witnessed by stretchers
in double brick oven mouths.

American lips furrow, while rolling Rís labor so eloquently.
Ein Vogel fliegt uber Krematoria.

We passed cut flowers and small stones
left inside the Jewish Memorial Chapel,
through evergreens guarding fifty-year-old crimes,

near chapels for the Russian Orthodox
and Protestant dead, a Carmelite convent.

Speech depends upon vocal folds, forced expiration,
passive vibrations. Resonance is modified
by movement of palate, pharynx, tongue, practiced

over gravel paths, on iron gates.
Blumenbeeten zudecken viele Leichen.

I backed onto the cool stone wall
inside the empty Catholic Memorial Christ in Agony,
swallowed by her seminary body.


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