Russian media call for a nuke strike on Berlin
when Germans decide to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
My neighbors argue. Red-faced, they shout.
I think the dispute is over Russian bomb threats.
No. They scream about the German destruction
of the Reims cathedral in 1914 as the army departed the city.
The French claim it is a war hospital.
The Germans claim it an observational post.
One runs into his home.
He runs out with an aluminum canteen with a brass chain
that holds an aluminum cap with the cork stopper.
My great-grandfather saw the Reims cathedral, he screams.
The other points at the 1918 date of manufacture.
He was barely there, was he? Four years after the fact.
He was a Christian when he went to war, says the holder of the relic.
He lost his pointer finger to a German bullet.
Here’s the Neues Testament mit Psalmen
that he took off the German. It did not stop his bullet.
He saw the Reims ruins on his way back to the states.
He wasn’t a Christian anymore after that.
The other examined the canteen
and the German Bible, bullet hole stained dull black-red
from the long dead German soldier.
Okoy, says the other says. Okay. I guess whatever
the Reims Cathedral was,
it didn’t matter.
J. Alan Nelson has work published or forthcoming in journals including New York Quarterly, B O D Y, Conjunctions, Acumen, Stand, New World Writing. Pampelmousse, Main Street Rag, Texas Observer, California Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Adirondack Review, Red Cedar Review, Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, Kairos, Ligeia, Strange Horizons, and Illuminations.