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Unformatted text preview: ities. They beg me to take them with me, not realizing I’m too busy as
it is. “Your time will come,” I convince them, and I try not to look back. At times, I wish I could say something
like, “Don’t you see I’ve already got enough on my plate?” but I never do. I complain internally as I go about
my work, and some years, the souls and bodies don’t add up; they multiply.
AN ABRIDGED ROLL CALL FOR 1942
1. The desperate Jews—their spirits in my lap as we sat on the roof, next to the steaming chimneys.
2. The Russian soldiers—taking only small amounts of ammunition, relying on the fallen for the rest of it.
3. The soaked bodies of a French coast— beached on the shingle and sand.
I could go on, but I’ve decided for now that three examples will suffice. Three examples, if nothing else, will
give you the ashen taste in your mouth that defined my existence during that year.
So many humans.
So many colors.
They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of
each other. There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people,
punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-colored clouds, beating like black hearts.
There is death. Making his way through all of it.
On the surface: unflappable, unwavering.
Below: unnerved, untied, and undone.
In all honesty (and I know I’m complaining excessively now), I was still getting over Stalin, in Russia. The socalled second revolution—the murder of his own people.
Then came Hitler.
They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is
like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly:
“Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you.
He asks for more.
Often, I try to remember the strewn pieces of beauty I saw in that time as well. I plow through my library of
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13