“Salzburg, Republic of Austria, July 2006” by Melaney Poli

In order not to repeat history, it is not enough to know it, we must know ourselves, and our complicity.   -Schillling

Some days you have to take what you can
get, and that day my mother was too sick
to find yet one more crowded pavement cafe

and the worst of it was, sitting there in
my habit, I had to see it all unfold: the tired
couple with their small child, the empty table

and the promise of refreshment, and then
the waiter descending in a blaze of jeers,
scathing looks and torrid gestures, and watch

the husband and wife gather their dignity
and leave, unwelcome only for the offense
of resembling too much the enemy du jour

and I had nowhere to go, nowhere to
hide my shame, no means of protest when
the waiter returned and served us sweetly,

set the coffee before me, and the only way
I could ask is a veil any better than a chador?
was to say, simply, Dankeschon

image

this poem was originally printed in the July 8, 2015 edition of Christian Century Magazine

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