In 2004, Steve, Janie-sue, Ben and Bekah Wertheim visited Germany together as a family to see where their family had come from…

A sleepy town in the middle of farm country, boy tending
His sheep in the hills nearby—sees the storm
Approaching, running back to the village, leaving his sheep.
My father was a bread baker at No. 23 in Waldorf.
Your father ran the market across the cobblestone street.
We used to sit and toast our glasses of milk together
Trying to be grown up before our time, celebrating
Another day of absolutely nothing. But there was no
Raising of glasses or cake eating that afternoon.
Gears grinding in the distance it comes, a metal monstrosity,
Men in iron hats, the dark clouds of diesel smoke,
And war
Loom overhead.

A cow grazes by the Weir River and I can hear
Their boots pounding a timpani in unison. The boy
Runs in screaming and I run to dad and hide but it’s no use.
The wooden front door now shards;
Broken hinge on the floor. They storm in
Grabbing my father’s collar, dragging him to the street,
Kicking his side, and punching his face
Until warm blood oozes from the crumpled heap.
My father weakly turns, spitting three teeth onto the
cobblestone
And I curse with all my 12-year-old fury from the crack
In the wooden slat of our street-level storeroom.
They force him to stand
And lead him away.

It’s 2004 now, early fall once more. The hills and valleys
Are in bloom. The sun shines through the trees, a cow
Lazes by the river of this still sleepy town, and I wonder
Why any army would come here; to this booming metropolis
Of farmers and bakers.
They would have had to call it, The Pitchfork Rebellion”
If it ever happened…
But it never did.

Your blood only a memory in front of No. 23.