By the Water

after the painting by Ernst Leiberman, Nazi artist


Naked and not ashamed,
their gazes carry to dim locations
where ash will float like the breeze
that cools their nipples,
now that they have finished swimming
and lie in an enclosure, drying
the wetness from their thighs and breasts.

Flat stomachs, triangles of hair
between their firm, athletic thighs
mark spaces that produce the master race.
Passion subsumed to discipline, cautious
of wrong blood, they are like guards—
casual but prepared to kill.

Two speak. Behind their words
a deadly admiration beams.
A third looks out. She has pulled a curtain back
and sees the rocky bay.

The sun will have them, will interrogate
their nakedness, tear off the veil.
Another kind of nakedness they’ll breed— lodged,
embedded, deep in their nudity.


"By the Water" by Ernst Leiberman

the ABCs of loss Pathetic fallacy