April 8 Poem

Berlin, 1945

“The rubble women” was how they referred to
the ones who cleared the remains of the city
after the war. It seemed like heavy work for
women, but there weren’t many young men
left around. The daily pay was about the cost
of a pack of cigarettes. They saved the bricks
that remained whole to resell. The corpse of
the city. Before the  cranes, the rebuilding,
someone had to clean it up, someone had to
do it. Hair under handkerchiefs, they don’t seem
unhappy, in black-and-white, despite the stench
and the hard labor, and the ravaged capital, but
anything is better than the bombs falling.