for Joseph H. Fish



A feat of engineering on an island in Munich’s River Isar, the Deutsches Museum

Brings science and technology to the public, with research facilities and small bedrooms

Corralled amid old space ships, a nuclear fission table, 560 war and invasion reports.

Dark halls sleep visiting scholars, gates to buzz open, a cafeteria where

Everyone must line up, no snagging a plate or a piece of fruit

From the central salad bar. Dad, it felt alien to

Go to Munich to present on infrastructure, in that infrastructure.

Heady with staircases and closed wings, cubicles and echoes

Inside research rooms. An antique building, gabled windows on an island with a

Jutting observation tower. Imagine, I’m the only one sleeping there that weekend.

Kept on haunting me, motion detectors, long echoing hallways and flies in bathroom stalls.

Left me taking sleeping pills, dreaming of Allied bombs in response to Hitler’s bombs.

Much wandering in old town, then a drunk fellow asked me to come to a Bayern München game.

No thanks, I said. Dad, would you have shrugged, or snored through such emptiness?

On a long cold weekend in that 1903 behemoth, I chatted with a number of

People. Servers, bartenders, shoppers, strangers sipping mulled wine by a fire pit.

Questioned them about their lives. When you did that on family trips, how it embarrassed

Renee and me to listen to you chat up staff at Colonial Williamsburg, or Howard Johnson’s.

Silly me, now I do it too. I’m more like Anthony Bourdain, scarfing street food, observing

Time and the effects of globalization, eating Turkish mesas you would never try.

Up in the hallway I thought I heard something, could be anything, in chaotic frightening times.

When you died Trump was only a loose thread sticking out. I spent time that weekend

Examining environmental books at the Rachel Carson Center. Soon a global pandemic erupted.

Year 2020 about to dawn, you gone from this madness. After your War, nothing measured up.




Attention turns to the photos. What can be done with them, Dad?

Being that you never wrote any account of your life, they

Capture a neat American uniform. Triangular flag, medals at your funeral.

Dead doors. Didn’t scribble dates, decisions, locations.

Elegant snapshots. Young soldier. Army-Air Corp.

France? English Midlands? A photo at the air base. Before D-Day. You’d

Gone back to London, ordered to deliver a parcel

Heady bombs and blasting bridges. Did you cower? Run? Pray?

Inches, smashes. At what point do your children grow curious?

Just when you’re nearly gone, they wonder about glory and

Killing. What infrastructures limned from the same old story?

Listening beyond your death. Mom, age 88, shows everyone photos.

More and more, black and white, mixed-up piles. I carry snapshots home.

Next week, another war. Hatred, propaganda, fascism, unmarked graves.

Openness remains in your smile. You and mom met in the Catskills,

Post-war. Some photos get stamped on postcards, Grandma Rebecca’s

Quiet dead brothers, from Poland, beyond the pale. Yiddish letters.

Recourse? What do I do about the faces of perished family members,

Stragglers. She couldn’t speak of them. I am the writer. Not in that language.

Trust me. Photos inch open.

Unveilings. Measured in blackouts every which way.

Violent victories.

What wisdom awaits?

Xenophobes come again.

Yeomen photos. Standing guard over such

Zeniths, installations in motion, on night watch.