—after the photograph of Lee Miller taking a bath in Hitler’s apartment on the night of his suicide, 1945.
I admire, despite myself, his white
and gleaming bathroom. There’s a row
of soap dishes fixed above the bath,
one for his shaving soap perhaps, his high
maintenance moustache that needed to
be taken care of. There’s the loop
of a shower hose, safely tucked away
against the pristine tiles. A small
statue of a Greek goddess is placed
on a sideboard and, surprisingly,
a portrait of the man himself displayed
at the foot of the bath, just there
for the shot perhaps. Like Artemis
surprised while bathing, the photojournalist
is looking up from where she’s cleaning
her pale back. I washed off the dirt
of Dachau in his tub, she said. Her boots,
lined up on the floor, have brought
in the outside world, have trampled mud
all over his immaculate white rug.
by Ciaran Parkes
Editor’s Note: The last few lines in this poem highlight with stark simplicity the complicated mess of history and war and human nature.