The tall poplar tree

by Ilona Martonfi

Bomb craters have been here,
late August tall poplar tree
Danube River wetlands
Bavarian Forest chalk hills,
purple irises, wild blueberries.
Here, the bog nunnery cemetery
tombstones, collage-like.
Us, playing skip rope. Marble games.
It’s end of summer. We are in fourth grade.
Don’t you remember her?
Nineteen fifty-one.
The girl in blue cotton school dress.

Refugees settling in the ruins
of the old airport Neutraubling.
They are Magyar, she says, live in a factory hangar,
Halle # 7, by the runway, by the Moosgraben creek.
Us, and our aluminum pails. Us, and our tin mugs.
We are in fourth grade. Late August.

Mother braids her hair in the morning, she says.
Ties the Zöpfe with red polka dot ribbons.
Buried, where she sits on a pinewood desktop,
in the last row, between two boys.
“Blackie, sit back here,” teacher’s lisp. Lederhosen.
How much of that did you see?
Operating the movie projector. Snapping and clicking.
Us, and our rye bread smeared with raspberry jam.
Row upon row of children.
Fill the space this slow afternoon.
Us, and the whirring film reels. Blinds hang closed.
Here, he molests her.

The tall poplar tree by Ilona Martonfi is a Blasted Tree original poem.