Leah in the bed with her face mask-covered, the mask plugged into a breathing, heart-activating system that kept her body functioning, although …
“I might as well tell you,” Doctor Kraus very cybernetically a file of beyond-emotion facts, they come, they go, all I know are theories and facts,” the brain aneurysm has done her in. Kaput! She’s not really ‘here’ any more, but has been ‘gone’ for about six hours. I would have had them call you at home, but I knew you were coming back this afternoon and …”
“So what’s next?” super-business-overseer, cybernetically double to Kraus, asks Abe, more dead than alive himself, filled with a million-million memory traces of his forty childless (because of her diabetes) Leah-years in the U.S., Cairo, Tel Aviv, New York, Paris, Stockholm, wherever his worldwide banking omniscience was needed.
“Only one practical, realistic possibility …,” Kraus pausing, part of his medical stage-craft, a pause always before a final Not-To-Be.
“I’m afraid so …no brain, no …you know …”
Grandma Rivka, I always loved her Yiddish-ancient old-worldness, always thought of it as foreverness, the way the world anciently was and should have stayed.
Her thick ankles and huge tits, and I’d look at the pictures of her when she was younger that she had all over the wall and I’d
laugh because she had been such a delicate beauty when she was younger and then all the goulash, I forget …potatoes …potato pancakes …latkees …
“You’re my favorite granddaughter, my favorite person in the world, let’s go downtown shopping, the day after Whatever …prices cut in half …”
Pass the sauerkraut. And always a little Passover wine.
Am I sleeping-dreaming or …?
I love our Victorian house, especially in the Spring and Fall, things being born and dying, waiting for resurrection …that’s not a word I should use, is it? Always talking about a Messiah as if He were still on the way, and then Rabbi Kleinfrau turning HIM into a HER …is there really anyone out there who created it all, eins zwei drei …EVERYTHING …whatever happened to physics …
Bob sometimes wanting it twice, thrice …never frice …with rice …lucky he ever got it at all with me and my diabetes …really hating mirrors these days, I really oughta get some ‘paste’ of some kind and Dietrich myself into sculptured perfection.
Dietrich. Bob and all his old movie obsessiveness, Dietrich and Hedy Lamarr and Gretta Garbo and Ginger Rogers, as if I ever had legs or anything else like them, I wonder if he ever had another baby-doll on the side or was I enough. I ought to go to put flowers on his grave on his birthday or deathday or during Passover, passing over into …is there another heaven-world on the other side of Rest in Peace, how can you rest in anything else but peace, pieces …but Kraus’d get jealous, wouldn’t he, better to just play it detached, straight, not that I’m bait any more anyhow but …
I’d like to re-see all my old favorite films like ROMAN HOLIDAY and LES DEMOISELLES D’AVIGNON, LA GLOIRE DE MON PERE, MA NUIT CHEZ MAUD …
Forgetting so much.
The diabetes …
The Charles Bridge in Prague …Prague Castle …the pointed towers at St. Vitus Cathdral, mausoleums and royal crypts, Grandma taking me back there, Dad telling her “A little trans-culture doesn’t hurt the kid …and home-townness is good for you too, add a couple of yours to your hundred year oldness …,” all the falling-down gravestones in the old Jewish cemetery and the Pinkus Synagogue with its red roof that said OLD, OLD, OLD …The Maisel Synagogue that looked like a Jewish version of Notre Dame in Paris, the Klausen Synagogue all made out of ancient stones, ancient stone streets, why does anyone have to die and cultures change, I wanna go back a hundred, five hundred, a thousand years, “S’iz shver tsu zayn a Yid , / t’s hard to be a Jew,” she used to always say, but not for me, every Saturday morning and/or Friday night, all the hands and kisses and hugs that say WE’RE ALL FAMILY, back to when God gave the Holy Land to us and still kept talking to us …Baruch atta Adonai, Elohainu, Melech Haolam …I’d like to go to Israel and learn, really learn-learn-learn Hebrew, go to Czechoslovakia and learn Czech-Slovakian, keep traveling, more hands and legs and maybe out in the Bohemian Fiddler on the Roof mountains someplace I’d find the Grandma and the Grandpas I never knew …back a hundred million years to dinosaur Judaism …HE must have always been around, always, always, always, why did it take so long to Adamize and Eve-ize things, and I know why the Germans holocausted us, because we owned Germany, like in the Old New York days when all the jewelers and tailors and everyone elsers were Jews …the Bar and Bar Mitzvah training, that’s what does it, you give kids attention, teach them Hebrew, put them up on the bima and let them do their Hebrew thing, makes them feel like Gershwinian stars …Rhapsody in Sanit …I feel so paralyzed, strange, strange nightmares-daymares …I can’t even open my eyes …”
“I hate to do this, but …,” Dr. Kraus reaching over to the switch, Abe blocking him for a moment.
“You don’t think there’s any possibility that …?”
Kraus getting mini-nasty but nasty enough so that there are undercurrents of radical violence in peripheries of his being, Don’t mess with me or you won’t be able to mess with anyone ever again, and he turns off the switch and the body slowly, slowly, after a few mini-twitches and breathing-attempts, totally dies.
About the Author
Hugh Fox was born in Chicago in 1932, and after recovering from polio he spent his whole growing-up time soaked in studying violin, musical composition, piano, opera, ballet. He got his Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Illinois in 1958, taught for ten years at Loyola-Marymount in L.A., and at Michigan State until he retired a few years back. 110 books published, his most recent THE COLLECTED POETRY OF HUGH FOX (540 pages) is published by World Audience in NYC.