Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

GLEANING, a poem by Ulrich Wendt

For the hungry people living among the shards of the Third Reich, the refugees were an additional unwelcome burden. The east had been the agricultural bread-basket for a west that had never been self-sufficient in food. The millions of new hungry mouths meant potential starvation for up to half of the population as long as Germany was not permitted to re-industrialize or purchase food from abroad.


It has long been said that the cranes
will not fly west of the Oder River,
yet here they are, three of them,
circling unmistakably – black, white, red –
on rising currents high above the wheat
and the blue corn-flowers.

Oh, how I have longed for just such a gladdening sign
as the message the angel brought that Mary held in her heart!
But now it is unwelcome, dreadful even.

For I am far from home gleaning in the shimmering heat
tired already beyond enduring
and oppressed by an unshakable foreboding
that this child in my womb
with hair of such fine-spun gold
so light that my gentlest sigh will ruffle it
will not live to an old age.

He will leave his vocation unfinished,
whether the working of wood, or words, or quiet contemplation,
will not feel life’s end’s glow of ambition assuaged
nor reflect, on an evening over wine
how friends, gentle or quarrelsome, have become dear.

And if some day, east or west,
I should see these birds again,
close up or faintly against the blue,
say nothing to me for I will not be comforted.

© Ulrich Wendt, March28, 2010

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