Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Entry #57

November
by Aerin Rose


The barren branches of the tree split the grey sky into a million shattered pieces.

In sixty years we have never missed the anniversary. Yearly we carve the word into our flesh, reopening the scars or creating new ones. You can only open scars so many times before the tissue is too hard to penetrate.

I have learned to bring gauze, to prevent infection. He brings a bottle, to smash, to use as our knife. I hold out my arm, and trace the first letter. It’s best to do one at a time and let the blood clot a little, so we take turns. K on my arm, K on his.

Sixty years of sharp silence. I am tracing T when, with strength that belies his age, he rams a broken piece into the tree, digging deep to the moistness of the sleeping trunk.

Der Baum trägt keine Schuld,” I say.

The tree bears no guilt.

“Neither did she!” he says colorlessly.

I haven’t forgotten...how the thin layer of muscle beneath her soft skin heaved under my fist-fall...how he fumbled with her underthings to desecrate her...the yellow star pinned to her coat...the way her eyes, like shards of glass, flashed defiantly.

We stare at the cuts oozing red on our wrinkled pale skin. Her silence echoes in the tree branches.

They, the Nazis, our superiors, coined the word immediately, in ridicule. We live with its hardness every day.

Kristallnacht.


[Author's Note: Dr. R.J. Busse, danke.]

28 comments:

Precie said...

Brilliant! Absolutely, painfully, vividly brilliant!

Beth said...

You have to know your Jewish history to get this and if you don't Kristallnacht is Crystal Night, the time when nazis went through Germany in 1938 smashing up Jewish shops, ransacking homes, etc.

Brilliant is the right word for this.

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

Thank you Beth, for clarifying. Aerin, this is extremely powerful. I read it twice.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for reminding us. Beautiful and horrible all at once.

JLB said...

Beautiful writing for such human ugliness. Well done.

Lena said...

“Der Baum trägt keine Schuld,” I say.

The tree bears no guilt.

touched me more than anything else.. using 2 languages for one thought makes it only stronger.

Sarah Hina said...

So, so good. "Sixty years of sharp silence." was my favorite line in a piece filled with many brilliant ones.

This was a wildly imaginative, effective piece of writing. You really touched a chord here, Aerin. Magnificent!

Thérèse said...

That is some seriously heart-wrenching stuff.

Very well written. Excellent pace, kept me wanting to read further to know what was going on. I like it very much. My breath caught.

wrath999 said...

Great job on such a tragic part of our history.

Posolxstvo said...

Haunting portrayal of penance and regret. I wish there were a long version.

steve said...

I'm amazed at the quality and beauty of these entries. I wasn't prepared for the ending, even though I had done a post last November about Kristallnacht--the other 9/11 (as everyone but the Americans show the month first and then the date). A very moving story.

raine said...

Magnificently painful, crystal-bright.
Applause!!

JaneyV said...

The idea that two people would try to purge such horrific guilt with this disturbing self-mutilation for 60 years is itself deeply shocking. Almost as shocking as their crime. And yet this was a piece of writing with great beauty.

Terrific heart-rending story, wonderfully written.

SzélsőFa said...

Even the first line was a hint about some tragedy and bitterness. I loved that.

paisley said...

i ad to do some wiki reading to get to the meat of this... but boy i'll tell you... it was worth it!!!!!

*~*Sameera*~* said...

That was mind-blowing!

Good luck :)

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

This sent shivers down my spine! A powerful and chilling piece of writing with such rich imagery. This is excellently done. Definitely one of my favourites.

DBA Lehane said...

Yes this is brilliant, powerful and thought provoking stuff

puresunshine said...

nice piece. very powerful.

BernardL said...

Achingly cold reminder of real life monsters.

Terri said...

You have said so much with few words here I'm having trouble coming up with a suitable comment... the ugliness of the crime, the depth of remorse and self-punishment... Well done.

pjd said...

I echo exactly what Sarah Hina said. The "Sixty years of sharp silence" line makes the piece complete for me. If this is really your first submission since returning to writing, it's a great place to start.

bluesugarpoet said...

You've masterfully weaved images of scars, glass, silence, and the tree into this piece. Well done!

ChristineEldin said...

Thought-provoking and brutally honest.
Even without understanding the German word, I understood what was happening.

Rob said...

Very well done. One of my favourites, for sure.

Aerin said...

I appreciate everyone's comments; but truly I wouldn't have been able to do this without all of the inspiration I've gotten from this community (all right, especially Precie, who pointed me here). Thank you for letting me participate!

jason evans said...

Very powerful to use the historic context. A gripping display of repentence. Well done. High marks!

Aine said...

Wow-- quietly powerful. Excellent writing. I love how the imagery of the first line ties the photo to the story.

The experience of individuals is so often overshadowed by the enormity of an historical event. But, it is those individual stories that are often the most powerful and the most educational. Because as humans we relate best to other humans.

Thank you for sharing this. Given your writing skill, you must keep sharing!