The ancestors of everyone I’ve let into my body
are gathered in a small room with one window,
no lights. Yes, the room is crowded. Yes, there
are no chairs. Yes, they are talking. Why are we
here, says the Nazi resister. Where are the chairs,
says the Viking (no horns). Where is the light, say
the people with their new French name hung
around their necks heavy like a long black cross.
Here, says the grand wizard, and a long white
light descends from a point on the ceiling.
The people of the oldest empire are here, too,
they have brought their own fire (hidden), they
too can speak French, they know in an instant not
to trust that light. They are opening the window.
How do we get away from these people, they
murmur. True Aryans! say the Nazis with their
new French name. No one is speaking
to the Catholics. There is a knock on the door -
there is a door. More Nazis. How did this happen?
Outside the open window there is a small huddle
of shawls and feet and candlesticks, a suitcase
and a cane. Someone has forgotten their things,
says the Nazi resister. The candlesticks turn into
my great-grandmother, their tarnish to coal smears,
the cane grows tall into my great-zayde, the shawl
his mother, suitcase an uncle with an aunt inside.
The feet are just empty shoes – my cousins have
already died. The small huddle of my family outside
the open window begins to sink to a great distance,
first one storey, then a long drop. Someone spits
through the open window. My great-zayde
shields his face. Great-Grandmother looks up.
What are those people, she says, doing
in that room?