Warsaw, 1st September 1939
I am not supposed to be in here.
But this is the only chance I've had in a while.
I climb onto Papa's desk chair
and reach up to the shoebox
hibernating on the top shelf.
Carefully, take it down - place it
on the desk to peek inside.
Grandfather's journal. It smells bitter -
burnt wood; its cover - spread over the pages
like so much melted chocolate. His fountain pen -
his sixth finger. The spiked medal, brassy now;
a gift from the ‘Fatherland’. The coloured ribbon -
faded. I breathe in the scent. Reminds me
of the inside of his violin case.
I check I am still alone.
Yes. They are all in the other room, crowding
around the radio - cooing as if it were a baby!
They even pat it on the head when it brings good news;
huddle round it as one does a stove. I prefer to sit
across the room by the sunset of the dying fire - flames
retreating behind sandbags of coal.
I dream about a stand-off. Just me and the radio-god,
wanting to take an axe to its shiny wooden head
and gawping metal mouth, fixed into a mock gasp!
Even if I was to scream, "Heil Hitler!" it wouldn't catch
their attention. Having said that though, I once said,
"It's not Moses, you know?" and was sent to bed with no supper.
They tell me nothing - think I'm unaware of what they whisper about.
But inside my head, I hear swastika cogs, whirring and grinding
like four point stars - jealous of the one that outshines them.
Fat black clouds, like tanks, chug over the horizon. A plague
spreading across a late-summer sky.
Suddenly, Mama rushes in. I freeze. Grandmother, Papa,
and David, gather at the door - look at me kind of strangely
and I know I'm for it! Betrayed by the radio - guilty
of not attracting their attention for quite long enough.
Mama pulls me off of my chair - gathers me into her arms.
She is shaking and I am scared.