September 1, 2014 by The Citron Review
by Rachel Unkefer
96 millimeters square, concrete sheathed in brass,
smooth and shining, mortared among cobblestones.
Gedenken. To remember. Sprinkle these stumbling stones
across Frankfurt and Berlin and Hamburg. In front of
31 Bamberger Street and 90 Otto Braun Street
(the Leonardo Royal Hotel). Stop each passerby,
force him to his knees, to read the inscriptions:
Here lived Edith Kahn or Markus Wallach or
Nathan Otto Rosenberg, Deported in 1941 or
Murdered by a mob in the street, 1939.
Auschwitz, Theresienstadt, Minsk Ghetto.
Hold her head down until she has washed the brass
with grief and guilt. And then do it again
on the next street and the next. Until the sidewalks
are blocked by the prostrate. Because flat squares glinting
like gold teeth obstruct nobody’s path. They
become fixtures in the neighborhood, as the people
once were. Better, construct an army of life-sized statues
to guard millions of front entrances, daring
pedestrians to pass without noticing.
Ludwig Bernheim, Karl Kahn, Alice Brandis,
Ida Frank. The forms of human beings,
disturbing the neighbors, saying,
I used to live here.
Rachel Unkefer’s fiction has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere, and her poetry has appeared in Atticus Review. She is the president and co-founder of WriterHouse, a non-profit community center in Charlottesville, Virginia.