Antje Katcher: Poetry

Could Andromache have talked to Helen?

Could the beautiful pious wife who married the upright hero

have found something in common with raped-rescued trophy daughter of Zeus?

Could Cassandra, who knew and refused the heedless love of the Gods,

have taught Helen to find her own face in that of the household women?

Could they have talked – these three women? Could they have halted

the burning of Troy?



As the radio reports use of white phosphorus in Fallujah

Coming home from a bombing raid

somewhere over Germany

the pilot breathed easier at the sight of cypresses

then found that a frozen cheese sandwich

heated on the machine gun housing tasted of life

It was that good war - WW II

it took courage as well as testosterone

to conquer the Alps - the Flak - the thin air;

he was a young man who had beaten the odds

on one more run

The women who cleaned up after air raids

would later tell how white phosphorus

stuck to clothes, to the skin, to eyes

you had no chance once it touched you - your body

would burn and shrivel to a black tree stump

For all that I know it might have been he, on that very run

who dropped his payload on the tire factory

by the river where a band of refugees

my father and mother among them

were cowering in the reeds.

My parents, as it turned out,

had a chance and survived – as did the pilot.

His fellow Jews, even then

being ground up in the gears of

Sobibor and Treblinka, had none

It was a necessary war,

even a just war, but not a good war

and somehow I hope what he felt on the run back to base

was also relief at riding the thermals

not bearing death

Antje Katcher