From the Archive: Talia Zajac (CAROUSEL 22)

Staff/ September 4, 2020/ Poem


Bebelplatz 1933 and 2005

Smouldering and cracking open,
the pages furling into black ash,
tossed by the thousands,
the books perish as words
crinkle, blacken, turn to dust,
putting Wells and Marx and Mann
in the same circle of the inferno
as young men hold torches and
offer hemlock to Socrates:
nobody wants to hear about death in Venice.

The ash blows away the words,
as I stand in Bebelplatz, where
the square is empty and I can see
St. Hedwig’s round church, the
curvaceous façade of the Roccoco palace
being turned into an apartment, and
at my feet there a window
set into the cobblestones, half-opaque,
showing below me an empty library,
hundreds of white shelves in the dark.

Talia Zajac is a professor of Medieval History at the University of Manchester. Her poetry has been published in The Toronto Quarterly, Acta Victoriana, The Grammateion, The Hart House Review, Demo, Misunderstandings Magazine and Nōd Magazine.

Bebelplatz 1933 and 2005
appeared in CAROUSEL 22 (2008) — buy it here

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