My Mother was Fathered by Death


eloped to escape Him,
but moved back in eventually.
My mother prays to Death,
asks Him to say hello for her,
makes altars to Him
in the glove compartment;
waterlogged Marlboros
bent like the cross and silver
offerings of Nicotine wrappers.
Her father, a WWII veteran,
came back carrying more hate
than what he’d packed to go;
two military-approved suitcases full
of faces from Dachau, faces of war
prisoners. When handed photos
of faces he no longer recognizes,
he clears his throat like a rusted tractor
fighting to start and says, I don’t know,
that was overseas
as though
it was a different world, and it was then.
A buncha them towns, he says,
was along the Berlin corridor.
You’d find the church steeples,
shoot a fifty caliber into it,
that way if there was any snipers in there
ya killed ˊem. A buncha them towns
he says, we shot ˊem all to hell.