When you tell me
with passion

that my parents were wrong
to escape—illegally— into Switzerland
That they should have stayed put
there in Vienna

to fight against the Nazis
They should have been
willing to die

as your uncle, a black
British soldier, who’d volunteered
for their sake, might have died
but returned

home to the Islands
to find himself
disrespected as ever

because he was black
then let me tell you
once again

how it happened
to my Jewish parents
on the train
to the death camp

A Nazi (who might even have been
my mother’s
old classmate, old boyfriend—

maybe even the one
to whom she’d once almost
been engaged)

was standing
behind them
She said she didn’t know who

it was
She never saw him

I think she may have been hiding
the truth

they both always agreed
that a Nazi soldier was standing
behind them

shoved the door open

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Joan Dobbie

Joan Dobbie, the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, has a 1988 MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, where she has been teaching yoga for 25 years. As the new Lane Literary Guild President, Joan co-hosted the River Road Reading Series (RRRS) for nine years and now co-hosts the Windfall Reading Series at Eugene Public Library. She has two well-grown children and six teenage grands.

Photo credit: Photo by author


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