10 March 2016

"Last Letter From Stalingrad, 1943"

Last Letter From Stalingrad, February 5 1943
by Peri Lyons, c 2016 all rights reserved

(Author's note: In 1976, a mailbag came to light in the archives of the US Army. It was filled with letters.
These letters were written by German soldiers. In 1943, the German army abandoned the soldiers it had left in Stalingrad, leaving them to die of exposure and starvation.. These letters were written by the men, when they knew no one was coming back for them. The ltters were never mailed.
I found these letters in a book, and, although of Austrian Jewish descent, I was moved by the words of men I grew up thinking of as enemies.
.This is a reimagining of one of those letters.Who this man was, and why was he was "avoided by men", I will never know.-PL))

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Last Letter From Stalingrad

Dear Monica
There are four of us here
For the first time I have friends
other than my friends, the stars.
(I couldn't look up from my telescope, Monica.
Not then. You know why. I was avoided by men.
So I looked at the sky.)

This letter will take two weeks to reach you
It will all be over by then
Do not believe what you read in the papers
of what they say has happened here:
What are the judgments of others, to you and me?
Monica, the time is too serious now to joke:
You were always my best friend.

I have always thought in lightyears
But I felt in seconds.
On this beautiful night
Andromeda and Pegasus are right above my head
I have looked at them for a long time
I shall be very close to them soon
My peace I owe to the stars, Monica
Of which you are the most beautiful to me.

Around me everything is collapsing
An army is dying
Day and night are on fire
And four men busy themselves with their job
We measure temperatures
And report on cloud ceilings
Here too. I have much to do with the weather.

No one, no one will come for us, Monica
There is no one to come
The clouds are rather low this evening
They make a pattern I have not seen before

I want you to know my secret, Monica
No human being has ever died by my hand
I have never loaded my pistol
With live ammunition.
I should like to have counted stars
For another few decades
But I suppose nothing will come of that now.

I have always thought in lightyears
But I felt in seconds
On this beautiful night
Andromeda and Pegasus are right above my head
I have looked at them for a long time
I shall be very close to them soon
My peace I owe to the stars, Monica
Of which you are the most beautiful to me.
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