It’s hard to commune with the dead when you are attending to your body. But didn’t I see my companion cry back there, in front of the suitcases? Did he smell the odor from human bodies?
All day long Polina sat anxiously waiting in her neighbors’ apartment, with its cracked windowpanes and boiling sausages, filled wall to wall with beds, piles of clothing, and damp water buckets sweating into towels.
Bruno Schulz was one of two great Polish fiction writers of the two decades between the wars, and so luckless was he, so lucky are we by comparison, that we may read his complete works in one long, trash-blown, weedy, windy, starry, swirling, Lower Carpathian day. His complete surviving works, that is—and that is the legendary pity of it. Such a day need not even take up your time, for you may go there in time according to Schulz, a limb of freak time that sprouts seamlessly out of time as we think we know it.
I’d been wandering for the better part of two hours through the outskirts of Lviv, or Lvov, or Lemberg or Lwów—it was hard to know what to call this city, given how many countries and empires had conquered, reconquered, occupied, reoccupied, or otherwise staked claim to it—looking for a concentration camp called Janowska, where upwards of 200,000 Jews, including, possibly, my grandmother’s older brother, Pinchas, had been worked to death or shot, unless they’d somehow survived all that and been put on a train to Belzec where they were taken care of once and for all.
* Oksana Lutsyshyna *
To think about clothes is a distraction, even in strange and, at times, dramatic circumstances. A lot comes to mind. My daughter and I are considering a little yard sale: selling clothes we don’t wear anymore, and thus raising money for the needs of Ukraine.