Excerpt from Weissensee by Nathaniel Gutman

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The following poem appears in our Spring/Summer 2021 issue. Subscribe today or purchase the single issue in digital format to read the rest of Nathaniel’s poem and the entire issue.

I wake up to a gloomy Sunday,
day-off a horror-film shoot.
It snowed all night in Berlin and I
search the salt-covered roads for
the Jewish cemetery in Weissensee.

I hold a sepia wedding photo, my great-grand-parents,
dazzling, in Victorian thread, their endless bright future lies ahead.

Offered land in Palestine he vehemently declined.
I’m not a Zionist, I believe in German-Jewish symbiosis,
and the Dresdner Bank gives me total peace of mind.

One day in 1923 she threw all their savings in a satchel,
for a loaf of bread, a can of tallow and an apple. Hyperinflation
swallowed Reichsmarks by the thousands. My
mother said that loaf of bread could be a Tel Aviv hospital instead.

She remembered the old
couple, arriving from Königsberg
penniless but gracious and brave.
I rhythm-stomp, grave after grave, after grave,
after grave, chanting Leonard Cohen Who by Fire.
..And who shall I say is calling?

Nathaniel GutmanNATHANIEL GUTMAN is a filmmaker who has directed and/or written over 30 theatrical/TV movies and documentaries internationally, including award-winning Children’s Island (BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel), Witness in the Warzone (with Christopher Walken), Linda (from the novella by John D. MacDonald; with Virginia Madsen). His poetry has appeared in such journals as The New York Quarterly and The American Journal of Poetry. 

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