The Star of Engelmeer

David Rowbotham

Atlantic City Boardwalk: American boy and German girl, before the Battle of the Atlantic, 1940-43. German U-Boats destroyed 1000 Allied ships. Altogether, more than 20 million tons of Allied shipping was sunk, with the consequent loss of many thousands of British, American and German merchant, military and civilian lives.

Don’t clap war
about his head,
not yet; the star
of Engelmeer
is loving him,
where tomorrows
of hells and heroes
of sailors shall swim
away, their tread
on the piled sea red.

One newfound night,
Atlantic, a step
from the boardwalk
and under it,
with his providence
Gisela
he looks at the star of Engelmeer;
which, like a shell,
she gives to him.

Mein Liebling, sail
in its light for me.’

His thanks in her body
ignite as they sweep
the truth of the sea
that the boardwalks tread;
for what tomorrows of hells and heroes
and torpedoes are there
already?
what fleet a heap
above his head?

The sea blows up.
Her angel keeps
to the windfall raft
while her sailor slips
in the bubbling drift
of blazing boats,
and a star floats
far and near:
Gisela’s star
of Engelmeer.

And Gisela waits.
‘Mein Liebling. Where?’

From the angel-sea
and Atlantic coast
one smoking star
has climbed through hells
to hover
over the lover and sea-lost;
and the day sails gulls.

And the next prayer’s read,
and the bells talk
to the newfound dead.