To my Father, After Visiting the Gas Chambers at Dachau
Jennifer Dunn Stewart
I traveled on the bus from Munich with the other tourists. We had strawberries from the Viktualienmarkt which we ate from wax sacks. I sat beside a backpacker from New Zealand who asked me if the weather in Bavaria was always so dreary, and all I could think to say was that I wasn’t German or Jewish.
Between the bus depot and the chambers is the famous courtyard. You’ve seen the photographs. Now it’s as anonymous as a stadium parking lot after the show is over, boomerangs of tourists trespassing through the emptiness like so many Canada geese.
You were the first dead person I ever knew, so I couldn’t understand why everything didn’t stop like a game of red light green light. The pedestrian ballet of DuPont Circle, the figure eights of rush hour. I carried your shoes— loafers and wingtips, court shoes and sandals, shoes for snow and shoes for showering at the gym, shoes made from leather or canvas or affixed with cleats— from your condo with the coral walls to that community table in the parking garage across Connecticut Avenue set aside for the things everyone knew would eventually end up with Carlos the doorman.