Life’s Beats

Douglas and I sit in the outdoors café in Köln
and sip our Pilsener while the waiter tosses
broken Küchen to the sparrows. I photograph

him with the dark spires of the Dom behind him,
a flat gray sky; he snaps me against a backdrop
of red, yellow, black German flags. He knows me,

his nephew, as the Rhein flows past the green
equestrian statue of the Kaiser, the orange-berried
rowans. He takes a breath, hands me tight-bound

papers from his solicitor naming me executor,
a precise list of to-dos. But years later, he will
forget his detailed orders for final dispersal.

Sixty years since he jumped from the Army lorry,
slid down the grassy bank to Recklinghausen, fell
in love with his second wife Inge; a shrapnel scar

dimples his back. We drink our Pilsener, bubbles rise
in Köln's grey light. The sparrows fight for crumbs.

Appeared in poetry (WORM) 33