The 4th Reich

Only the animals

Sense a tsunami coming

Rocking earth felt from afar

Mollusk’s screams heard

From the ocean’s bottom

The seam of the world splitting open

Hot blood stirring animals to run, crawl, fly, scamper

Towards higher ground

Leaving humans smug and unknowing

Of the earth

 

It could happen again

 

So the creatures must have known

About the tsunami

Of The Third Reich

And the wake it would leave.

Some of us know now

The waves and wakes to come.

 

As a child

My mother read me the original bloody grim

Stories from The Grimm’s Fairy Tales

“Why are fairy tales called that? None have fairies.”

I felt betrayed because I heard “Grin’s Fairy Tales”

So I kept listening for smiles.

Instead women were bitter, children were beaten,

Animals were bloodthirsty. No fairies.

 

It could happen again

 

I saw the fairy tale men behind my eyelids

When I went to sleep – lurking and grabbing

Tempting me with words and sweets but swiping at me

When I expected it least

I begged mom to read the other stories

The ones with less hurting

But instead she told me

 

How the Nazis

Used the stories to promote hatred

of Jews and non-Christians

The wolves were the Jews

The blonde girls the Germans

I only understood the Jewish part

Not how she said:

 

It could happen again

 

So I ran to my best friend’s 4 houses away

Asked if she knew any Nazis

She pushed me out the door,

Slammed it behind both of us.

“Not that word! Not in our house!”

 

I wanted to hear all the stories

And wanted to hear none of them

I wanted the truth and I wanted none

Then I had to read Anne Frank in 9th grade

And asked endless questions, like “Why triangles?”

My teacher was patient and grim and explained:

 

It could happen again

 

Even with the guts of pigs and the teeth of wolves

And the ravaging of Rapunzel

And the swords above girl’s heads

And the taking of their innocence

 

I plunged in

To that tsunami of fascism - fiction and facts

Fright fueling me into more stories

Hearing, reading, writing, holding them

Entering that time when lives were picked up by the wave of hate

 

As if stories read and written would immunize me

And I would never feel the tsunami alongside the animals

Writing my way into salvation

Or so I believed

And now

The animals know

 

It is happening again