Hermann, the Channel was blue-green
when you banked your plane and headed
back. But the Stuka’s wing,
down which you sighted the countries you hated,
shone brilliant as medals,
didn’t it? Your plane seemed
almost to be on fire, didn’t it?
My Nazi uncle, you received the letters
my father still talks and wonders bout—
the ones in which he told you to bail out
over England and plead insanity.
You got the letters, didn’t you?
But you kept saying you’d land in London
with the rest of your squadron,
in a few months, when the war was over,
of course. Of course. But they needed you
in Russia, didn’t they? And the few
who bailed out there were met by peasants
with pitchforks and scythes, weren’t they?
how he may have justified his continued involvement in the war. It’s
an interesting perspective to write a poem from. Kara Madden, age 23
Anyway, your plane blew up, for a moment,
like a sun; your dust bailed out all over.
Hermann, I don’t mean to make fun.
But this is only a wargame I’m playing,
anyway, isn’t it?—pretending you can listen,
or that you matter any more?
Later, past the days your ashes
sifted down through the gray Asian air,
the Allies leveled even Berlin, where,
under his alabaster ruins
your warlord’s charred bones
sang hosannas in their sleep.
Hermann, what would you say now
if you could talk? How would you deny
my father’s letters? I keep
questioning him. He says: Ich habe ihm oft
geschrieben, aber. . . . He is almost sixty
now, and longs for you, and longs
for Wilhelm—buried in Holland, by the way—
frustration with members of his family. Rachel McGuinness, age 19
more than ever. Your living brother’s heart,
so to speak, has empty corridors.
He sleeps back to the day young Wilhelm fell,
and the day you burned,
for a moment, like a sun. He stares
for hours at photographs
of the two of you in uniform.
Hermann, my three brothers and I
are the most dispassionate of all Heyens ever.
Though named for Wilhelm, your poet-brother,
and frustration pent up for many years finally able to escape into verse.
Rachel McGuinness, age 19
I often curse the two of you and spend my hours
writing verses that wonder how your fiery,
German romanticism started,
and where, at last, if it did, it died.
Patricia Schlutt, age 15