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The William Gilmore Simms Prize

Ann Herlong-Bodman

History 101: List

History 101

                   The struggle of man against power
                    is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
                               —Milan Kundera

Russian tanks painted
Pepto-Bismol pink
after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Dvorak in Symphony Hall.
"Amazing Grace" on the corner.
Russian uniforms,
left by invaders
whose time had run out,
strung up for all to see
on makeshift clothes lines
high above the street

and you
jostling with freedom
in the bookshop on Wenceslas Square.
I gave you my copy of A Farewell to Arms.
You took me to your classroom.
She will help us with our English.
I spoke of Western books and writers,
wrote Kafka’s name on the board,
but when we heard footsteps
coming down the hall,
your students’ eyes
grew cold, turned absent.
You closed the door.
I erased the board.

Did we expect it to be easy?

History 101: Text
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