For the shipwrecked
Berlin Feb 27, 1933
I felt it listing that night
We set out to protest but the police turned us back.
We wandered the ship in a daze of confusion.
My father shut himself in his cabin,
Refused to be moved. Wake me when it’s over.
My wife took my hand. I remember
The clarity of the stars. Their remoteness.
Europe’s glittering flashbulbs. Ironic points of light
But far away and quite useless.
We talked lightly of lifeboats, would not be alarmed.
Paris is lovely at this time of year.
My uncle’s brother has a job in Prague.
Someone said taking on water. Somebody cried.
I peered over the side at the blackness,
Imagined its touch: fire or ice. Which is worse?
Think of the flame-fringed horizon. The Parliament burning
(And Democracy’s blackened hulk in the morning).
My wife shut her eyes. We clutched each other
On the tilting deck, and wept.