Berlin, 1944 by Amy David

In a 2013 interview, Margot Woelk, revealed she had been one of Hitler’s food tasters during World War II.

 

 

Fifteen of us, all young and blush, perch on the kitchen bench,

                critics on opening night,

so eager to forget about our bodies. We never forget

                about our bodies. Every held breath

 

 

is a conspiracy, every double-blink a symptom, and still,

                this is luxury. Three times a day,

my face a padlock, but my tongue a double-agent. The breeze

                of celery, the radish’s smirk,

 

 

Brussels sprouts pinching gutsy and green — when did fear

                ever dull the senses? The truth:

there is never enough. I am fervid in my duty, restless

                as a flywheel, always counting down

 

 

to the fleeting kiss of the fork. Even as the allies blockade

                all color, here: a kaleidoscope.

Am I afraid of cyanide? Show me a woman who knows

                how to open only to joy.

 

 

I’ve heard the rumors: the towns left glass, the living catacombs,

                the chambers blue

as drowning. But who would it save to chew with a proper

                German scowl, to deny

 

 

myself the pleasures of aroma, to take a bullet

                instead of a meal? I used to believe

there was power in refusal. Now Berlin is on fire

                and I am a faucet run dry.

 

 

One of the guards told me dying of poison

                wouldn’t be that painful,

easier than choking on the British bombs, faster

                than lying among the rubble. Here,

 

 

my death would mean something. They say the last thing

                some people see of this world

are iron gates crowned with the promise, Work

                will make you free.

 

 

amy david headshotAmy David is a poet and performer from Chicago, Illinois. She has represented Chicago four times at the National Poetry Slam and has been featured on stages from Boston to San Francisco. Her work has appeared in journals including Word Riot, Foundling Review, and The Bakery.

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