There’s a certain joy in watching someone you hate
suffer. Naturally it took a German
mind to cobble together and join the words
schade and freude, joy at suffering. I see
how easy it happened. Pointed helmet
on head, my great grandfather, Peter Kessel,
seated atop his rust-red Reitpferd in WWI
came crushing over a small patch
of flowers through the forest he guarded.
Yellow dandelions and white Spring saxifrage
had commandeered the fields with their beauty.
Peter ‘s horse snorted and slowed. Ahead,
what had been hidden in small heights
of wild grass lay a man sprawled on his back.
Peter dismounted, pushed a polished boot
into the man. He jerked and moaned.
His left hand, zigzaged like a baguette
conducting the breeze. He began to sing
“C’est la vie.” Grandfather kneeled.
Ungloving his left hand, he touched
the man’s forehead. Schade — he said, too bad
– it was schade. His own supplies
meager, he’d been told not to bring
enemy combatants back to camp.
The Frenchmen was rotten with fever.
Peter trotted on, leaving him. Without much thought
he’d have shot a crippled horse. Behind him,
the man’s cries rose like larks into the meadow.
copyright © 2015 Kurt Lovelace All Rights Reserved