Robert Sheppard

Reading The Reader

of Bernhard Schlink


Three figures climb
To freedom manacles cut

From walls but still weighted at

Hoisted by the hero
Towards shadowy militiamen

Who carry axes unfurl
Unreadable banners

Below men too weak to
Move smell

The nauseous richness of freedom
A single torch in

Hollow darkness is enough
A proclamation

Fisted into their
Side of the bargain

A traitor's scab —
Dispersed in its own hush

The crowd catches the last cool word
Pillowed on congealing silence