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legs, of a stairway’s standard proportion of rise to run; the sense of inside as distinct from out; a window’s relationship with light, air, and view; the meaning and utility of a door, a floor, ceiling or wall.

What kind of consciousness plants geraniums into truck tires and puts airplane seats under a pear tree?

What kind of body can relax in those chairs? What kind of pain blankets the dissonance of old tires and flowers?

What kind of numbness allows feeling at home in such unease?

What kind of touch does not sense the discord of debris and bloom?

Lying in a hammock in the orchard marked off by barbed wire, I cannot imagine. I read testimonies, history and fiction. In the epilogue of her Journey Into the Whirlwind, I come across Evgenia Ginzburg’s afterthought about her eighteen years spent in the camps:

During those years I experienced many conflicting feelings, but the dominant one was that of amazement. Was all this imaginable – was it really happening, could it be intended? Perhaps it was this very amazement which helped me to keep alive. I was not only a victim, but an observer also.

If it was hard for her to imagine, how can I, three generations apart? It may be that this inability was protective – that one can remove oneself to stay alive.


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