A Jewish refugee, he probably came
just before the war to our North London suburb,
and stayed in our house for a while till the authorities
took him away to an internment camp,
maybe the Isle of Man,
as an ‘enemy alien’ alongside captured Nazis,
We never heard of him
again. All that remained were his books
stowed away in a cupboard in my brother’s bedroom
‘for the duration’;
a two volume Muret Sanders dictionary, three heavy tomes
of Bismarck’s Gedanken und Erinnerungen,
a Struwelpeter and other evidence of scholarship.
But now, with both my parents dead, untraceable,
no one left to ask. If he had stayed at home in Germany
there would have been meticulous documents, closure.
This poem was originally published in Vallum issue 18:1 Invisibility.
Vallum regrets that we made a copy-editing error and Christopher Levenson’s biography does not appear in the print issue of 18:1. Our sincerest apologies for unwittingly remaining too true to our issue’s theme of “Invisibility,” it was not our intension to make Levenson’s name invisible as well. We are proud to have Levenson’s poem included in our issue, and apologize once again for the error.
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