November 22, 1963.
My mother was at home, watching As the World Turns.
Of course she remembers where she was and what she was doing when she heard the news. Everybody does. She tells me.
But I got married on a November 22nd: It’s a long weekend. New York is beautiful in the fall. Everybody can spend Thanksgiving in the city. Maybe go to the Macy’s parade.
We liked the date.
It wasn’t lack of respect; we were just oblivious.
Then, my brother’s first child–my niece–was born on a November 22.
A new life.
here’s what Czeslaw Milosz wrote
about Campo dei Fiori:
Someone will read as moral
That the people of Rome or Warsaw
Haggle, laugh, make love
As they pass by martyrs’ pyres.
Someone else will read
Of the passing of things human,
Of the oblivion
Born before the flames have died.
Or how about this poem. This is Jacqueline Osherow from her book Dead Men’s Praise:
Site of the Jewish Cemetery, Raciaz, Poland
Why care that there’s a forest here
Where the cemetery used to be?
Fir trees, birch trees, pine trees, lovely markers.
And the local farmer’s daughter
Who walks often in these woods
Can show you where the markers used to be;
She’ll point out the remnants of the layers of cement,
Which (according to my father-in-law)
Were made to look like bedclothes on the graves:
A few small clumps beneath the spreading trees,
Spreading out their roots among the bones,
Who might even enjoy the lively company.
And as for the markers, the stolen markers,
My guess is the bones don’t miss them.
They know—don’t they—who they are.