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Grassed-Over Histories

by Stephen Ellams

for the artist Anselm Keifer and victims of the Shoah

Bold and reckless, we stare
Into the camera lens
To capture our own faces.
As a nation, we have struggled
To acknowledge past failings.

In this convoluted age
Of broken promise and sigil,
Our history is proscribed,
And the truth, like teenage love
Remains temporal and fragile.

Through the eyes of Anselm Keifer
There is hope of redemption,
As the conscience goes delving
Into the guilt and sheer horror
Of recurrent genocide.

His intense leaden cloud
Pregnant with dereliction
May give birth to admission.
Inside a great fertile crescent
Is where we begin healing.

Our traumatised state
Within a disunited world
Mixes ash and hallowed earth
Into ancestral blood,
Lifting the death fugue

As looming stone edifices
Of Goethe and Wagner
Stand in tacit judgement,
Beckoning us to witness
The worst of human nature.

Like enchanted sunflowers
Charged to follow the sun,
Sinners shall bend down low
To disperse blackened seeds
Into Shulamith’s grave,

For his art has decreed
We learn from our mistakes,
As it is our mortal fate
To be formed and reformed
With God’s personal clay

Until the lessons of the Shoah
Ashen from the furnace
Are embraced, not forgotten,
And our cities are grassed over
With Paul Celan’s poems,

Not this paralysed future
Coated in sand and shellac,
Deathly barren before us
With its impasto desert
Where nothing can flourish.

Anselm Keifer
Anselm Keifer



Copyright © 2017 by Stephen Ellams

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