Thursday, October 19, 2017

First Snow in a Refugee Camp in Germany

I still remember the first time I saw snow.

I was almost three years old, living in a refugee camp in Germany.

The snow fell thick and fast on a convoy of camouflaged army trucks moving through the camp.

I stepped outside of the barracks without shoes on.  I didn't know the snow would be cold and wet, but that didn't matter, the cold and the wet.

I stood in the white swirl and put both hands out to catch the flakes.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Road of Bones -- A Novel of War and Love

Road of Bones

That's the title of my forthcoming novel (Kasva Press) about two German lovers separated by war.

It's set in Berlin and the Russian Front during one cold week in January of 1945.  The main characters are Hans, a soldier, and Magda, a widow and his lover.

Hans is a fictional representation of the German soldiers who killed my mom's family in 1942.  I wanted to write about him so I could better understand what happened to my grandmother and my aunt and my aunt's baby.

WIPs -- an online journal that offers excerpts from novels in progress -- has published a chapter from late in the Road of Bones, along with an interview in which I talk about writing the book, my motivation and the problems finding a publisher.

Please take a look.

And buy the book when it comes out!

Click here to read the chapter.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Brothers and Sisters from the Slave Camps

My father always talked about the men and women he was in the slave labor camps as his brothers and sisters. I remember once walking with him on a street in Chicago when he ran into of the men he had been with in Buchenwald. My dad threw his arms around him and hugged him and wept, whispering "my brother, my brother" as he cried. This is a short piece I wrote about his brothers and sisters from the camps.

The Despair of his Brothers and Sisters in the Slave Camps

Even though he had not known them before, they were his brothers and sisters now, brothers and sisters from towns whose names appeared on no maps, villages lost in the marshes of the east and the ravines of the south, men and women from cities who’d known food he couldn’t imagine: bread in the shape of birds, wine as bitter and blue as tears, potatoes soft and warm as summer clouds--and macaroni.

And each day they did the work the Germans forced them to, whether it was cutting the wood, or hauling the pine coffins from the trains, or stacking crumbling bricks in Magdeburg after the American planes bombed it.

At first these brothers and sisters talked about the smell of the dead, the awfulness of the work, and then they didn’t.

And from the same gray metal buckets, these brothers and sisters ate what the Germans gave them soup that was always too thin, meat alive with maggots, bread made from sawdust and sorrow, and they looked at each other with the same cold eyes, and knew that nothing, not even love, could keep them alive till spring.


To read more about my parents please buy my book Echoes of Tattered Tongues.