Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dancing with the Germans

At the start, our women itched for exotic Germans
who stuttered with empty tanks from neutral skies,
London, Bristol, Liverpool, crackling behind them,
and drifted onto soft, Irish grass among bored cattle;
where we arrested them, rattled them swiftly to camp
to plot impossible escape, brood on Fatherland,
wait for triumph or shame, finality, a new start.
We were not hard on them (we got no thanks),
paroled them to public houses, dance halls, our girls.
When they stepped out to Jimmy Dunny's Orchestra
they tantalized the Newbridge women
for they were novelties, starched, stiff,
every man an officer, or as good as!
Then on a chilly Saturday night at war's end,
shrivelled faces framed in barbed wire fences
stared awkwardly from a newsreel at our women;
who learned new names: Belsen, Dachau, Treblinka;
innocence shuffled away. Bands tuned up in dance halls;
later in Lawlor's Ballroom Jimmy Dunny played
smartly polkas, old time waltzes, two-steps, but no-one wanted
to dance with the Germans, in the shocked silence.

Published, 1999, in Snakeskin, September issue

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