Liz Marlow

Wilhelm Kube’s Candy

Orphanage Liquidation, Minsk Ghetto, March 2, 1942

The Triumph of Death by Felix Nussbaum

Like an ant, Kube
loves taffy, grape
flavored candies,
and chocolates.
Cubes and spheres
made of sugar
and dried fruit
always occupy
his pockets
the way extra bullets
or a photo of a lover
might fill another’s.

Kube stands crisp,
starched in his new,
clean field uniform,
watching children
crush each other,
using littler ones
as step stools
for better, cleaner air.

This reminds him
of rope courses
at boot camp,
and he imagines
rats climbing
dock lines
onto a battleship,
sniffing out
paths to the kitchen.

as his troops
dump sand
from large shovels
on their heads,
sound like rats
in a trap,
all encompassing,
too much for him,
so he tosses taffy
and chocolates
into the sand
for their tiny fingers
to grab like raccoons
hunting turtle eggs.

He remembers
burying a friend
to the neck
at the beach
when he was a child,
smirks to himself,
stands still,
watching these children
choose between breath
and nourishment.

Sand sticks
to his candy
the way it sticks
to wet fingers, lips
as the ground
closes its mouth,
never wanting to take
what’s full of light:
those trying to dig out
rather than down
so unlike moles,
so unlike badgers.

Sand whispers,
filling children’s ears,
while silence yearns
for different sound
to make it stop.


About the writer:
Liz Marlow’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Carolina Quarterly, The Greensboro Review, the minnesota review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and two children.

Image: The Triumph of Death (Die Gerippe spielen zum Tanz) by Felix Nussbaum (1904-1944). No medium specified. No size specified. 1944. Public domain.