A poem.

”Friederike in Germany”

I didn’t even hear her falling.
Dawn revealed her to me, there where she lay.
So matter-of-factly sprawled out on the ground.
Silent. Forlorn. Broken.

Yesterday she stood tall. Upright.
With spindly arms raised skyward,
In some demonstrative act of adoration.
Somehow majestic. Even defiant.

Not today.
Those same arms humbled,
Bony fingers now extended more in an act of desperation.
Hoping someone would catch her. Hoping I would catch her. In vain.

Now she moves not. Her lifeless limbs frozen in time,
Capturing the fateful moment that dislodged her crown and forced her bough down.
The ultimate snapshot. Of an act of God, conspicuous by his absence.
Whose breath blows where it will. Or so they say.

A witness no more, unable to speak
Of comings and goings. Of forbidden encounters or scars that recall liberties taken.
And so the names of her tormentors go with her to the grave.
Etched into her memory, carved now into oblivion.

The rings under her eyes would surely tell tales.
When rooted to the spot as that ferocious storm trooped past, dictating destruction.
Or of people and power and a peaceful turning.
She was there.

Recounting regimes and rules and the common era.
And the wallflower who danced to the wind of change,
Blowing autumn leaves from brown to red to green shoots of new life.
We forget how much she knows. No longer.

Every fall leaves her pale. But the fruits of her labour, all around to see.
Like her, a breath of fresh air. Sheltering, nourishing, expiring life.
Why did I take her for granted?
I didn’t even hear her falling.
Barry Sloan

(Chemnitz, Germany)


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