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18 July 2018

The Weight

The NS Poem: The Weight, in memoriam Danuta Danielsson  

By Mark Granier

An enraged woman runs across a street
to bring her handbag down, hard, on the back
of a skinhead Neo Nazi flag-bearer.

A photographer freezes her weapon in midair
just before it lands, the skinhead’s profile calm
as a new-minted hero. Looking closer,

you might guess this is a woman who knows
something about flags and backs. If you search
for what little information there is

you’ll discover she was a Polish Jew, the child
of a mother who survived Auschwitz: facts
that appear to click inevitably into place

till you read further, and the jig-saw edges
rise precipitously. The skinhead will march on
to torture and murder a gay man three years later,

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and Danuta – who had been known
to occasionally scream at people in the street –
will jump from a water tower that same year.

Depending on how power-washed you prefer
your heroes or heroines, the handbag
will either lose its weight, become

insubstantial as an averted eye, a pursed
word, or it will gain
the gravity of a scream, a pendulum.

                                                                                                              – Växjö, Sweden, 1985

Mark Granier’s Ghostlight: New & Selected Poems was published  by Salmon Poetry in 2017.

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This article appears in the 18 Jul 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump-Putin pact

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
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THANK YOU