A Poem by Stefanie Bennett
The dirty linen’s tumbled after
That last cursed war:
My crest fallen uncle can’t come back.
I’ve trekked from the shores of
San Remo, past cathedrals
That reek of Christian pitying…
To Valenza – where thirteen shrews
Wail in their eventide black
Beneath seven stars
Forming the shape of the plough
To find one stone commemorates you
Giuseppe, partisan shot
By German and provisionals of Italian militia.
‘And only my own kind will kill me,’ *
Sang a brother
Facing another diabolical accord.
Surely this is where grief spins
Its curtain calling
Among the fur trees:
The ritual of diametrical deceit.
Who’s fallen? Never our national astronomer
Nor the ragged pennant
Restored along with the invaders.
I taste the bitterness of sulphur
Can cut clean
– And we begin to curse together.
We who’ve unbridled the blood lore
Still holding Valhalla proud.
[* a line from a poem by Osip Mandelstam]