by C.B. Auder
They found another aerial bomb in the Elbe last summer, just there beside three churches, spitting distance from a Kindergarten playground, not ninety meters beyond a monument dedicated to Friendship Between Nations. Thank a heat wave (Hitzewelle) and a drought (Dürre) so severe that even World War II found a new way to gasp and rear the aging steel canister of its fragmentable head. Mutti
used to send her voice arcing through the August neighborhood towards Richard Nixon Elementary park. Tones that pinpointed our location on that searing metal slide, on those pinch-fingered swings. A new misery announced every afternoon--Fritzi Teufel, the dependable klaxon of the neighborhood--words flying through our chain links, flaying us from ear to ear, piercing even the notion of a cicada's drone of summer love. No longer that shy Mädchen, fourth forgotten child of six, Mutti was an American now, echt, allowed to speak her gottverdammtes piece in Rancho Cucamonga. And how
her worries then grew. Round and thick and lead-filled as a Kommandant's head, as she pushed her walls of Wasser, as she flung her arms out to shoot down all of life's surprises--good or bad for her equally traumatic--anything unexpected that might sabotage the perfect balance she'd attained with the sharp-edged
trenches of our minds. I still see her up on the ridge of my childhood, her words devoted to flying spit, twinkling silver on holidays like Bouncing Bettie toys (Bist du verrückt? Are you CRAZY?). My summer long gone, they land in autumn birdsong now. Soon, they will cocoon my sanctuary of winter solitude, until even the memory of that precisely-scheduled bedtime kiss has risen and cooled and flown.
C.B. Auder's writing has most recently appeared in Milk Candy Review, Bending Genres, Atlas + Alice, and Pidgeonholes. They edit the online journal Claw & Blossom at www.clawandblossom.com