I’m riding high above the clouds, on a journey crossing Pennsylvania on my way to Santa Fe, NM. The television monitors in LaGuardia airport had been alternately beaming images of children in cages and sounds of TV talking heads reporting on children in cages, children taken from their asylum-seeking parents, being held hostage, it seems, for a wall. I realized that the last time I inadvertently sat in front of that particular monitor in LaGuardia, images of children fleeing Parkland school after the mass-shooting were filling that same screen. I need to stay away from television screens in airports.
I’ve been in New York City for 10 days. At the beginning of the trip, I taught my “Storytelling in the Classroom (and Beyond)” intensive at NYU. Among other things, we were looking at storytelling as social action. At the end of the trip, I was in Central Park telling stories about defeating voracious giants and preening bullies. In the middle, I spent seven or so hours in one day immersed in the Broadway revival of Angels in America. Oh my, how I loved Ethel Rosenberg haunting Roy Cohn!
This past couple of months has been pretty wild for me. Some health issues popped up, due, I’m assuming, to a bit of chaos swirling around my personal life magnified on the national and international scene by the actions of the lizard people who seem to have taken over the world yet again.
In the middle of all that, I received a hundred page manuscript of poems about Auschwitz and Birkenau. My poet friend Carol Rubenstein has spent the past decade going to those haunted places often, diving into to the haunting as only she can, and writing the poems. I have been slowly making my way through her depiction of that ash-covered horror story. To have such extreme history, those places, and “the nameless,” being re-imagined by her poetic responses is unbearable. Especially at this moment in our history, as we create concentration camps for children on our southern border. Friends of mine are caravanning from NY to one of the camps in Texas. Just imagine, we don’t have to go to Poland to bear witness!
And here I sit, serenely sailing at 32,000 feet over Pennsylvania. I spot the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers, and now the Ohio flowing south west from Pittsburgh’s “golden triangle.” I was born in Pittsburgh, safe from Hitler’s booted enforcers who were then bashing the tender heads of babies like me against walls. I wave to my friend Frances and to some cousins still there. And I wave to my friend Indigo, who built a labyrinth on her tree lined street in Wilkinsburg. When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, I don’t think I ever heard of a “labyrinth.” I think we all need to start building labyrinths on every corner and under every tree. Much better than building concentration camps for babies. Much better.
~~~”Re-imagined, but not Imaginary”..from the preface to The Nameless by Carol Rubenstein