Standing By

For Käthe Kollwitz.

people looking at wrecked buildings

She knew that for the grieving, someone willing to stop and wait, absorbing speechless calamity, is always worth more than platitudes of comfort lobbed in passing. In the age of abstraction, her naturalist style might have been called out of step, but a mother who loses as son to war is not an army. To see her women was to feel their weight. I have no right, she said, to withdraw from this. As she saw it, her duty was her steadfast gaze, maintaining focus where others would turn away. See, for example, her mountain of mothers. Their large working hands, the bodies thrown over small children, the way they hold one another in an unbroken circle while keeping watch for what may come next.


Inspired by the work of Käthe Kollwitz.

“Die Mütter” (The Mothers) / Käthe Kollwitz

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

3 thoughts on “Standing By”

  1. ❤️Stacey – as you know, Käthe Kollwitz is the queen of illustrating emotion. I studied her faces while learning some skills – of which hers are mad, as are yours at embodying and eliciting such feelings in your writing. You two are a team, it seems. How horrible for those losing loved ones; and what thoughtful dedication.

    1. Carolyn, thank you so much for this. Her work stopped me in my tracks when I first encountered her prints last year. Stunning.

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