In the Anne Frank Huis

The house, denuded,
stripped to brown bones,
furniture shipped off,
has barely learned to breathe.
A long-held air seeps out
as the slow crowd shuffles,
steeply climbing stairs.
And a slow, silence sits, even now,
as it was taught to in church,
the weight of genocide bearing down.

Kids are laughing and I want to
shut them up.
parents can’t even raise a shush,
huddling on, brushing shoulders
with the imagined past.

Laughter here would have
given the game away.

It echoes still,
the house unfamiliar
with spontaneity,
and outside I realise,
a giggling girl
is a small victory.


9 thoughts on “In the Anne Frank Huis

  1. The lingering feeling of being cooped up, imprisoned in fear with just a glimpse of hope now and then, the courage of Mies bringing the vittles each evening, under penalty of instant death, so much nobility can hardly be expected to withstand the onslaught of the well fed complacency unencumbered by overriding angst of today’s tourist hordes.
    As you say, the present laughter outside is the stronger link.

  2. Yeah, a self-chastising note — the grumpy ole guy was going to scold kids but suddenly realized the true victory — superbly crafted, you caught me.
    If you are interested, I read a Poem by Josephine Jacobsen where the watcher use the moment’s delight to step away from the serious just as your have. But I must say, I really enjoyed yours.
    My son and I were in Amsterdam this summer — we skipped seeing this generic tourist trap for the reasons you actually captured here.

  3. I climbed those stairs 50 years ago and read the book and wandered the streets of Amsterdam under the staggering weight of history. I took Anne’s message of hope and conscience to heart. So that day in 1965 I joined a group of locals who were picketing against the Vietnam War outside the U.S. Embassy there. We must never forget what the power mad will do if we do not stand against them. We need to breathe and laugh, yes. But we also need to oppose tyranny — and not just along those lovely canals in Amsterdam.

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