Thump, thump, thump went Dorothea's
head. She burned with the authority of
a constellation of candles, and then she
didn't. Most people who claim spiritual
powers have thick skin and big bones. She
hadn't. I brushed her fingers surreptitiously
with an insufficient blessing of my beard.

A petty officer offered something and
cigarettes to her wardens. They licked and bit
and exhaled smoke. Our eyes followed their
swallowing. Dorothea waited at the end of
a rope.

"Mmm. . . mmm, . . ." said the Dürer
Madonna, a type who would bear one child
from a disappointing marriage. "Mmm. . .
mmm, . . ." said the other, engineered for
many children from any man.

Both were the color the sun makes on pale

If the willowy one was a deer, the sneering
officer was the wolf for whom she yearned.
It must be in the blood, this taste for tearing
apart and being torn apart.

They recognize no distinction between sow
and jew, and this allows them to milk, beat, bleed
and feed upon every sinew
, I spat and spat
quickly, and gunners from the tower fell.
But two übermen rose up and dragged
Dorothea the length of the wooden buildings
as if it were Christmas afternoon. They ran
and ran and their new sled became
very red.

Six years later, while walking HaYarakon
Street in Tel Aviv, alternately calculating
and praying (as is my way), I was born in
Oak Park, Illinois. This was a clever selection,
modeled, of course, after Hemingway.

Dorothy's primary concern, as she nursed
me in a bedroom of a bungalow, was our
anonymity. Shades were drawn religiously;
one lamp lit the bed red; and lint, busy
as ancestors in a corner of heaven, instructed
me, You are as we were. Her parents, her sisters,
herself as a child hid among silks. Prayers
clung as kisses, but no one has survived.

Her face alternates between a smile and tears
as it did when we were chosen;
but I write, This story must end here, with this
telling, upon the winter of this page.

Why should you always be among strangers?
she overrides my expostulations as she did
when I was her child.

When I died last year in Haifa,
Dorothea greeted me upon the low stone
bridge beyond the forest of our village where
her fingers were always cold.

Unterwelt [#59]
© 1998 Fammerée

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Richard Fammerée

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