“juxtaposition” By Mallory Brown

the smack of hands meeting before a quick embrace

fills the little square of the Old Town of Lublin.

two men grin at each other.

“dzień dobry!”

“dzień dobry!”

their smiles are bright, familiar,

Everything is angles here.

The sign, stairs, barracks,

Offices, even the name itself:

Majdanek—sharp in letter.

like the morning sun that hangs over

these cotton-candy-colored houses and flowery lampposts.

the men linger a moment before they continue on their way

down cobblestone streets and around

umbrella-lined cafes.

The camp is full of neat

Little rows of neat

Little buildings along neat

Little paths. Everything is

Exact in its planning.

“German ingenuity,”

Isn’t that right?

Isn’t that Reich?

on you walk, pointing out the tight-rope walking statue,

a record shop, and murals of lords and ladies.

the heartbeat of the old town is fast, strong—a thrum of enthusiasm

from locals and tourists alike.

your favorite kind of town. this is why

people go to Europe.

But nobody who visits now

Can so neatly tie it up.

Thoughts and feelings bleed

Out of you: tension, tears,

Sighs—all take up space between

Rusted iron, creaking floors, and

Hot bodies baking in the summer

Sun. You wonder if this is how they

Felt in summer. You hate yourself

For comparing the experiences.

There is nothing that can compare.

accordion music, rich and reedy, floats around under the bridge

luring your group back to the start, enticing the students

to let loose. they grasp hands, spin.

their laughter and pleas for friends to join melds with the busker’s song,

and all must stop to watch such a perfect union.

A man inhales sharply, stealing

The sighs of you and the others—

And of the ghosts—out of the air,

Giving them a new space in his lungs.

He steps outside. (He will not look

At shower heads the same.) You watch

Him go. You do not go. What would

You say? What could you say?

Nothing. There are some things people

Must do alone.

“yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…”

their curls, ribbons of golden brown, fly as they turn

round and round at the music’s call.

as their parents, grandparents, teachers, and strangers watch in awe. youth

is not wasted on the young here. these children do not hesitate.

It’s quiet in the camp. Nobody tells you

To be quiet. It’s something you simply

Know, like you do right from wrong, up

From down—but do you anymore? Did they?

They were quiet, too, next door in town.

They were quiet, too, across the Channel

even with Turing’s Enigma in hand.

“now it looks as though they’re here to stay.

oh, I believe in yesterday…”

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