THE SUMMER BEFORE THE REVOLUTION

By Carl Auerbach

The revolution, like Saturn, devours its own children

—George Jacques Danton at his death by guillotine in 1794

 

I wish I could still feel the way I felt

back then, that summer before the revolution,

when we lay on a tattered army blanket spread out

0n the grass, and our kisses tasted of hot coffee

and Pall Mall cigarettes, when we could want

without doubting what we wanted, before the revolution.

 

I wish I could believe what I believed

when we were young, and everything was simple:

Che and Mao and power to the people

and a new world being built and we walked home

at 3 a.m. barefoot on the sidewalk,

and were happy, that summer before the revolution.

 

Even now I sometimes hum the tune

of the song we sang—what were the words?—when we climbed

the ladder to make love in our secret attic,

and forgot the bomb hidden in the basement,

before the blast and bucking walls that squeezed us out

and we were born into the revolution.

 

I wish I still had faith that love could last,

the way I did when we climbed down the ladder

from the attic, before the hiding, the betrayals—

all those lies we told each other—the way I did

when we held hands as we walked out the door

into the hungry mouth of our father, revolution.

_________________
Carl Auerbach is a Professor of Psychology at Yeshiva University, specializing in the psychology of trauma. His poetry has been published in many literary journals and he has been nominated for three pushcart prizes, two for poetry and one for short fiction. He lives in Manhattan, New York.


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