Memories ** - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich
She'd always come in silently,
to see if I was still asleep,
twas quite essential at this age
to take a nap each afternoon.
I'd hear her when she touched my cot,
and saw her face, framed by dark hair
and bringing, just for me, her little one,
a smile that brightened all, and warmed
all those who'd witness it, but there was me
and it was all reserved and never shared.
She'd take me on her shoulder then
to see if burping could be coaxed,
then we would snuggle in her chair
and watch for aircraft from the enemy.
The worst was bombs of phosphorus,
folks jumped into the river, well alight,
Aides scrubbed with laundry brushes, coarse
the skin to save the hapless devils there.
We'd be prepared to hide of course,
a secret passage had been cut
into the study wall, it led into a space
behind the upper loo, pitch dark it stayed
and I held on to Mother's hair, it was so thick
and gave me comfort in my darkest times,
outside, the soldiers banged their riflebutts
against the kitchen door, Dowoy, Dowoy,
I do remember Gospodeen, and Twoye mutch,
they raided all and stole, as victors filled with glee...
We huddled in the dark and talked inside our heads
'we are not home, please go away, we have no girls,
no vodka and we left some time ago, so go away.'
Bombs kept on falling, there were Yankees in the sky
and mother prayed though she had traded the good book
for a small loaf of winter rye and one whole fatty eel.
They never found us in our hiding place, next door
the family was taken out of town, not to return,
and I, I was prepared to flash my own and special smile
to match my Mother's soonest as they lights came on.
She mentioned, later, years had fluttered past,
how I was so enthused about her hair, today, of course,
this hair has lost a bit of luster and some body
and its colour is a wavy, peppered glacier's gray.
I think I'll douse the lights and ring her quickly on the phone.
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