All My Opa Will Say About Germany Before The War

Heil Hitler became the way people said hello, goodbye, goodnight to their children before turning low the light. It became what couples exchanged instead of kisses in doorways. How businessmen sealed a deal over cigars. What conductors said when the train was leaving the station. The semaphore of the birds breaking over the city, the Morse Code of fireflies in the vineyards summer evenings. Though if you look at the photographs, watch any movie, it is winter in Germany. It is winter for years. Because who can imagine walking in the Rhineland in the sparking blue afternoon, brushing a hand over the rough hewn wheat as you pass, shoes wet in the grass, coming on a group of children, picking the small cherries which grow wild before the crows can get them. Picking the cherries and looking up to say Heil Hitler when they see you approach, teeth dark red from the fruit.

H.R. Webster is a current Zell Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Canary, Devil's Lake, and Ninth Letter.