First of Five
Two Page Openings from
The Way We Live
by Burt Kimmelman  

Alhambra Steps

Leaving the palace
we descend the steep
stone stairs arm in arm —
you pulling me down,
me holding you up.


Mikvah,* Warsaw Ghetto 1941
(At a screening of A Film Unfinished,
New York City 2010)

They wade into the
water, naked, in
silence, shoulders hunched
over, in their fear
betraying the lens.

There are dark splotches
in the celluloid
where their groins were and
where the soldiers, out
of the frame, could aim.

In far off Berlin
an information
officer realized
what he was seeing,
hid it in a vault.

A young girl in the
ghetto who, by luck,
has become an old
woman, is being
shown the restored film.

Watching the haggard
bodies, the clumsy
attempts to obey,
she sighs, as if she
has to be polite.

"When the Germans showed
up there was always
trouble," she says, the
fact of the matter


* a Jewish ritual bath used for immersion in a purification ceremony.

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