She’s an artist & right now
she’s only doing birds. Planned or improvised? I ask.
It depends on what kind of feeling you’re in. Her father’s paintings
were the most gorgeous big beautiful white
to other waves—gorgeous, gorgeous,
with beautiful. They used that gorgeous big beautiful water
during the summer. A dead face
once with a body in the river which cuts
Bremen in two. When I ask, What does it mean,
that you had survived Hitler’s Youth? she laughs—
her weightless laugh, nearly silent, deep
and weightless at the same time.
From across the street a man is throwing cherries, bombarding
a violinist in a black dress. This is her mother, and her father wanting
the woman to look down from the balcony, to look
across the street, to see the arc
of a blood-red fruit connecting them across the dusk. Later, if the children
interrupted her practicing, Muti would come after them with a stick.
At that time there was no soap to be had.
“Muti, can I have one more piece of bread?” / “No.”
“The people were in a big garden & they were told to go lie down. I saw the people
laying, I saw them laying on the ground. I even thought afterwards,
maybe whoever makes—whoever writes it down—I said, you write it down,
whatever happened—they were beautiful people. I have been in their house
and loved them. I saw the people laying on the ground. I said, you write it down.”
Look: she is a person who sings. She’s had on for quite some time
a pair of plain shoes painted gold. She is a person
whose children have died, who has twice carried
sons in her belly who weren’t being fed—and after
the war little brother died, bitten
by her father’s dog and there was nothing
to repair it. She is a person who sings—Shalom,
shalom. In her stack of drawings I see little yellow birds. I see shapes
like fire and rock. I tell her I’m Jewish and she pulls
all of herself into her eyes, looks at me
with that. When I tell her I write poetry she says, That makes sense
to a very red part of me. That is yellow birds made
by the Lord, with blue shadows underneath.
That is from inside.
©2017 by Abby Minor