“. . . the gradual rise of Nazi Germany, which somehow took the laissez-faire, un-radicalized citizens of Berlin by surprise.”
Benjamin Lindsay, Vanity Fair
Aunts clad in dark dresses and pearls
and dapper uncles in fine worsted suits,
gather at the table laden for pleasure:
flowers, champagne, frosted cake,
and a crystal decanter of sherry.
Father is poised to offer a toast,
Mother, in profile, appears morose,
but the absent daughter smiles
from the photograph placed
at the center of plenty.
May 10, 1934, Berlin, beloved girl
gone off to Palestine, alone.
How will she celebrate her birthday?
Has she made friends?
Surely, she’s lost her mind, leaving
such comfort, love, and family behind.
First published in Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018
Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal, Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at http://www.donnahilbert.com
Photograph is of Exhibition of Wolfgang Stock. Author unknown.