Defiance


The Jewish brothers in Defiance were definitely tough.
One wanted to kill many Germans, the other to save many Jews.
The German soldiers were expendable, unmarried, unremarkable.
Each little death was very little, a little spittle in a big wind.

Fast forward to my friend’s son’s bar mitzvah or daughter’s
coming of age ceremony. Food is abundant, the music frenetic,
the rabbi paid. Gifts generous but not obvious.
Wealth does not obviate death and we know it.

Here too we have natural leaders. Youth basketball coaches,
school principals and, again, interpreters of prayers. When
violence comes to the neighborhood they are who we’ll first look to
for governance and guns. Unless have you read The Admirable Crichton?

Boredom, boredom conflated with loneliness, may be a sign
of good luck. To live a good length or light year away from man’s
bad breath, allergenic perfumes, sickening flatulence and shed hair.
But you are drawn back into the debate about perfection by your own erection.

While teaching at the old city jail I have learned this: only meditation
upon the periodic table can save your soul. From itself.
Imagining the world without the self will make you whole.
What else is there to say. Do less until one thing’s done well.

After the war the brothers started a small trucking company
in the Bronx. Grateful for such peace, the accounting
was relaxing. They thought back to how they met their wives, naked
before the bombs and bullets. How they lost and found themselves in what happened.


Copyright 2013 by Robert Ronnow.