Outside the Nanjing Massacre Memorial by John Brantingham

For a moment,
the young man forgets
that he’s supposed to mourn here,
and he kisses
his girlfriend or new wife
on the bony top part of her ear
and smiles
even through his eyes
and the crook of his neck.

When he remembers
the 300,000 who died here,
he turns his eyes down respectfully
as if the dead
would persecute him for joy,
as if they would not want him
to breathe life back
into this ancient world.

John Brantingham

John Brantingham is the writer-in-residence at the dA Center for the Arts and a professor of English at Mt. San Antonio College. His most recent poetry collection is Dual Impressions: Poetic Conversations about Art.

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