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“Family History In Times of Siege (1945)” by Robert Resta

A full schedule, impatient with patients,

committing the mistake

of heading straight to

matters of fact

But they must tell their stories first

Facts only matter

in the setting of the heart.

§

An incendiary March night,

standing in a meadow,

looking up in little girl wonder

In the distance

Tokyo vaporizing

into hot white ash, carried by a vortex

of burning wind, transformed into

a snowfall from Hell

that calmly floated down, and covered the grass

as far as her eyes could see.

§

August, family and neighbors

crowding the barn

surrounding the only radio in the village

a silent circle of heads

weighted with shame and shock

listening to the Great Emperor

surrender their country to strangers

from across the ocean

But she was secretly relieved

Never again would her asthmatic airway

be inflamed by sirens and the musty air

of a stifling underground shelter

her mother pulling her by a stiffened arm,

protesting, in the purple dark of night

as the world exploded around her.

§

Across the Axis, a tiny girl

cried in a Dresden bunker,

unaware that her desperate mother

had raced back

to coax a stubborn father to join them

 

in the safety of the depths

Her family history erased forever

by a carpet of bombs

that rolled down the street

to arrive at the door of her house

precisely as her mother opened it

to plead with him to run for his life.

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