Monday, July 1, 2013

Seven Five O One O

I hardly remember the wooden railing around the holiday house being so weathered.
It is, like me, aging and beyond repair.
The black and white photograph in my hand fades from left to right.
Everyone is luminous, except me with my extremely dark, suntanned skin.
Nothing much has changed,
I am, as I was then,
secreted behind dark glasses,
not only to shade my eyes from bright sunlight,
but because I’ve only ever allowed a precious few to see my naked eyes.
Sometimes brown and sometimes green, I am told they are hazel.

The angelic child in the middle of the photograph
is looking down,
he almost disappears into the surface of the wooden structure.
The child to his left is looking at me, or past me, but I didn’t know that at the time.
I can name none of these children and remember them not.

The only person I distinctly recognize is Frau Burke, a Holocaust survivor.
That often strange expression she wore as she looked away.
The unidentifiable heart-shaped motif on her front, mirrors the shape of the lantern attached to the outside wall of the A-frame house.
I imagine that the spirit of the incandescent globe, closeted within the lantern’s frame has drifted slowly down and settled onto the exterior of her cream, wool jumper, bringing with it some unseen energy that permeates her body.

It has not entered mine, for I am in the dark
or just evil
or everything
they imagined I was.

On closer scrutiny I believe that the suffuse, but indistinct area I’ve described on her person is, in fact her hands clasped together in humble suppliance, or the blurred outline of her right hand with cigarette, moving from her pursed lips as she turns her head to exhale.

Her hand as faded as the purple black serial numbers tattooed onto the outside of her lower arm.
The SS only branded healthy men and women who could work.
A single needle marked their skin with the shade of crematory smoke stack vapor.
Either way, dead or alive, you were melanoid.
She must have had horrific stories, but never uttered a word, although sympathized with us children who had also been taken, disinfected and experimented upon.
Injection after injection, but never blue dye in the Iris.

The Aryan girl with blond hair cut in a bob, stands behind me in her geometric patterned top.
Her body obscured.
Her shrunken eyes, gaping holes like someone blind.
We all live with some kind of darkness.

As I look at myself,
the eldest and tallest of all the children,
number seven, five O one O
my left foot on the bottom rung and my elbows resting on the top,
I imagine that when the shutter release was clicked
at that particular time,
on that particular day,
nearly half a century ago,
that I was already aware of this future moment,
in which I write of the past
through a photograph.

Julie Clarke (2013)

See: Inquiry into abuse of children in state care and experimentation.

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