Saturday, October 12, 2013

You will not have trouble

finding her.

In Frank Auerbach's Euston Steps
she is sitting with her back to you
on the bus-stop bench - 
her hair is the way it looked like,
each brush-stroke 
a distant memory.

after the night of broken glass
thousands of Jewish children 
come to England - memory 
breaking at each station, they come 
to the arms of strangers - 
Bernd Koschland, then 8, Bavarian,
"didn't know the language 
except one sentence" in English,
the only one his parents taught him,
before they became only memory: 
"I'm hungry, may I have a piece of bread?"

They always came
from the arms of strangers
how much of parents 
did they know at eight, at six? 
Was memory stronger for them
than distance growing? - 
after just a few months 
in a local Swansea school, 
when his father telephoned him 
on his birthday in June 
– Henry Foner ('little Heini' of the postcards)
remembers the call, he had stood 
in the hall of the Foners' home
in the Sketty – his father continued to speak,
but he had already forgotten his German.
From then on, all his father's postcards to him 
were in English -- in them tears were 
always two sentences deep.

In Auerbach's Euston Steps
the rail station is becoming concrete, 
is becoming platform -
two steps, three steps, 
bewildered, "that's what I wanted to show,"
Meisler said, years later, in the sculpture 
that he did for the Liverpool Street station
- "disorientated, tired...bewildered children
coming into wartime England,
not knowing a word of the language."
On the platform, saying goodbye, 
the last thing his father told him 
- before letting him go - 
was "Whatever happens, study, go 
to university."

I am more certain it is her
- she who'd let him go, every year
becoming memory, becoming 
distance - who is facing the other side 
- "It all feeds in," Auerbach relented - 
she has a suitcase in front of her, 
the one she had packed for him, in which 
"I had some things for wearing immediately 
and then on some items my mother 
had stitched a red cross in the corner 
for later use [always, love is a letting go, two steps, 
three steps - memory is pain 
in the arms of strangers] and some items 
like tablecloths and sheets were for use 
when I was grown up."

Frank Auerbach's Euston Steps


Shalini said...

Loved it :)

Pier Roberto Giannelli said...

Beautiful You have a beautiful blog.