In late afternoon light, head bowed,
I enter the barn alone, still searching
in the church-shadows, almost confessional,
for something important lost,


some invisible part of myself
left here, over forty years ago
with the German Lutheran sisters,
one of the last just died at age 105,


leaving their steamer trunks from the Fatherland,
their German Bibles, sewing kits, keepsakes,
and simple bicycles, clutched together.


Knowing the books will be tossed into
a dumpster
, I rescue the gold lettered
Regensburger Kodjbudj of Marie Schandri
if only for the beauty of the worn cover


and the pages of detailed illustrations
showing cuts of meat, kapaun, rindfleifch,
lendenbraten and hammelfchlegel,
with fourteen pages of serviette shapes.


Knowing very little German,
yet wondering why someone placed
a pressed four leaf clover on page 767,
then an X in pencil at 62. Genfgurfen.


From a scarlet satin-lined suitcase
I save Nachefolge Christi, with
a frontispiece showing Thomas von Kempen,
robed and reading books, a scroll flying
past an austere face.


Two faded ribbons, attached to the binding,
mark 20. Kapital and 15. Kapital,
certain paragraphs accentuated in blue pen,
handwritten on the back page, in uncertain pencil
"to live for Christ means to serve".


The final two books, Licht aus Seinem Licht!, for
the overuse of exclamation points, Bible references in English,
a strange bookmark, written in 1948 by Pastor A. Funning;
and a curious scratchboard face with large eyes,
peering around a door, with four candles,
lit and burning bright, despite fear and
such darkness
, Die Vier Kerzen by Patricia M. St John.


Six black and white drawings
suggest a children's book with a message.
The second to the last chapter, Das Kindlien
has what I think is a song,
"Auch ein Gruppenchen Kinder in langen,
hellen Kleidern stand dabei und sang auf arabisch:


Von Himmel kam der Engel Schar,
Erschien den Hirten offenbar;
Sie sagten an: Ein Kindlein zart,
Das liegt dort in der Krippe hart.
Zu Bethlehem in Davids Stadt,
Wie Micha das verkundet hat;
Es ist Herre Jesus Christ,
Der euer aller Heiland ist."

***thanks to DonJaime for help with the German font

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