by Athena M. Henderson

When I was a young girl in Greece,
I saw a German soldier digging on a hill—
the site of our village’s ancient acropolis.
Late in the afternoon, when cicadas
stopped singing, he worked.
All through my growling belly,
my weak arms, the sores on my legs
from a lack of vitamins,
he sweated and strained
and looked into the ground with wonder.

The Germans stole a lot of Greek antiquities:
gold, furniture, whatever they found.
The orderly of the Nazi Captain
who occupied our village with his men
told my mother that the Captain stole
the dowries of young girls.
He waggled his hand behind him,
Klepsy, klepsy,” he said.

Now I watch the Troika digging in Greece.
All through the morning, the afternoon,
the cool of the evening,
Merkel and Schäuble work with wonder.
Through the loss of jobs, the cuts in our pensions,
a lack of food, an absence of education,
with no talk of the war reparations they promised
that they were ordered to pay
by international courts, they work.
With no memory of Greek villages
they wiped off the face of the earth,
their revenge killings,
the 800,000 Greek dead,
they ask, “What past?”
having already stolen it.
As they eye our future.

When I was a young girl in Greece,
I was a resistance fighter.
And I remember the past.
The whole of Greece has a long memory.
We remember we fought the Nazis
not only to save ourselves from their present
not only to preserve our past
but to protect the future—
and we are reminded easily what work we need to do.
When I was a young girl in Greece
although hunger growled in my belly
I lifted my weak arms,
rose on my legs full of sores
and helped rid Greece of Germans.