Through a New Lens

Kinderlandverschickung, Evacuation of the Children       

         ~Dorndiel, 1944



Six am roll call, calisthenics, a cold shower,

Latin, history, math, cold sandwich. 

Then: military geography, aircraft identification, 

and small arms training, which I love.

Our instructor, a haughty Hitler Youth 

of eighteen.


Afternoons: running, marching, 

digging trenches then homework

and the nightly letter to our parents. 

By then I'm crying— exhausted, homesick.


A giant map dominates the dining hall. 

Our troops march across Europe

marked by tiny swastika flags.

Our camp commander declares 

daily, "You are the future."


On clear days, huge formations of

Flying Fortresses drone overhead,

darken the sky like giant bees.


Mutti and Papa send me 

a permission slip so I can

go to the public pool, 

along with a warning:


"You must not wait 

till the bombers come.

Reconnoiter an area 

where you can take cover. 


Do not bother with clothing. 

Get out of the pool 

and run."