What Remains | wisconsinacademy.org
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What Remains

Honorable Mention Poem from our 2015 Poetry Contest

     Where the author’s formulations challenge the reader’s credulity,
      I have quoted the German original in the notes. Seeing is believing.
     —Ralph Manheim, translator Mein Kampf

There’s something to the feel of ash,
it’s silkiness of residue,
from which one cannot easily wash.

Not unlike some sibilant hush
whose loose affect slides over you,
there’s something to the feel of ash

more real than any maddening dash
from childhood terrors peeking through,
the touch from which one cannot wash.

How lighter than the least eyelash,
how paler than the palest hue,
this something of the sense of ash.

As insubstantial as a wish,
the ashes rise beyond the flue,
from which one cannot hope to wash.

To wish it were pure balderdash
is characteristic but untrue:
there’s something to the feel of ash
from which one cannot ever wash.

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