Observations from a Ramble in Portland, Oregon
A crumpled, upturned steamer trunk
lies at the head of a cobbled path—
across the path is a toddler’s shoe.
I must squat to touch the strap of the trunk. No,
it’s not leather, it’s bronze, like the tiny shoe,
and the smashed violin, mangled eyeglasses,
and trampled prayer book, strewn along the path
that leads to a black granite wall.
A rock, under which is buried ashes—
from Chelmno and Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec,
and Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau—
anchors the end of the wall.
A fir tree stands nearby
I cannot span its trunk with outstretched arms.
We, the living, that tree and I.
Alan Abrams is a retired builder. He’s been a regular feature writer for the Takoma Voice, and has written reviews and articles for DesignLines, the journal of the American Institute of Building Design. His story, “Last Trip,” was published by The Black Boot.
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