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tearing the rag off the bush again
Stalingrad, September 1942 PDF E-mail

For (and after) Vasily Grossman

1Simple, canvas-covered bi-planes,
The Polikarpov U-2,
Designed as training planes,
Used as cropdusters
And termed 'Kerosinka'
('Kerosene lamps') for their talent
Of bursting easily into flames,
Flown by

2 (The Germans’ nickname for)
Young Russian women,
Pilots, ages 18 to 20 years,
From the Dubovka airfield,

3Cutting their engines, gliding
Across the Volga, over
The front lines at Mamaev Kurgen
(The high Tartar mound),

5Releasing night flares
To warn the Red Army's
Guards Rifle Divisions
Not to fire in the air,
And throwing grenades,
And mines onto, into
XIV Panzer Corps
Ofvon Paulus' 6th Army.


In their kerosene lamps1
Night witches2 fly
Silently3 west4
Lighting candles5
And handing
Their little gifts6
To Fritze7
Keeping him awake.


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