David Winter’s attention to the physicality of objects and language carries an immediate and arresting gravity. “W. W. II GERMAN S.S. DIVISION SOUP SPOON, $250.00” is, in his own words, “part of a larger body of work-in-progress responding to Nazi and Ku Klux Klan artifacts displayed for sale by an antique dealer.”
The striking image of the soup spoon in the title of the poem is the starting point for Winter’s interrogation of consumption. Who or what consumes? Who or what has been consumed in history? Winter fearlessly delves into a litany of precise naming, each image building with a sense of inevitability on what comes before. Every act of naming is both resurrection and unbearable loss, as what is named passes “into the gullet/ which all things must pass through.” Interspersed with the naming are references to the “Jews of Słupca,” an evocation and acknowledgement of the poet’s personal family history.
With every line, the past is undeniably thrust before us in the present. The effect is a sobering and grounding one for any reader. As a form of confrontation itself to neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology in America today, the poem urgently demands our attention, serving as both reminder and warning.