Buried Rivers by Ellen Korman Mains

Buried Rivers by Ellen Korman Mains

Author:Ellen Korman Mains
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Ellen Korman Mains
Published: 2018-08-13T16:00:00+00:00

Several surprises followed my retreat. Herb had decided to visit for a week, but came down with a cold at the last minute and rescheduled his trip for six days later. Meanwhile, I’d received an email from Annelie who wanted to visit me as soon as possible. She found a ride from Bremen to Łódź which dropped her outside my apartment building two days later, carrying gifts of German chocolate and coffee. I rebooked all the reservations I’d made for Herb, and bought a red fold-out mattress for Annelie to sleep on.

The next day was Friday and Annelie rested while I went to class. We would have three days together, three days to explore what was between us, whether that was friendship or something more. I had never been in a relationship with a woman, but was open to the possibility. That uncharted territory scared me, but it might explain the magnetic pull between us. And if I were a lesbian, that could explain why I’d never been in a truly fulfilling relationship with a man.

On Saturday morning, we walked from the center of Łódź to Plac Wolności and Stary Rynek to the north and then up Franciszkańska into the ghetto, exploring alleys and hidden courtyards among the tenements. Trees protruded into the holes of vacant buildings where windows had once been. In some cases, new trees had taken root within, their branches reaching outside.

We explored the outdoor market in Bałuty, posing for pictures next to mannequins modeling suits and a rainbow of fake legs in brightly colored stockings. We walked and talked for hours before realizing this was a great opportunity to perform the ceremony for the dead. Annelie would help with the practicalities; she would also provide protection and support. Last but not least, as a German, she had her own reasons for participating.

On Sunday, we selected the location and shopped for provisions including sweet wine, fruit, herring, and chocolate. I chose a spot under an unusual tree with wide branches in the northeast corner of Herring Park, at the ghetto’s border, not far from the site of the old synagogue on Wolborska where my mother must have prayed as a girl. Across the street was Stary Rynek where she had lived.

As the sun went down, we set out with our backpacks full of supplies: offerings of candles, flowers, juniper, food and wine, and blankets to sit on. While midnight might have been ideal, the loss of sleep would have been difficult, as well as finding transportation. Sunset would have to do.

It was almost completely dark now. Most people had cleared out of the park but a few still wandered around, and I wondered what they would think. We set a yellow cloth under the tree and arranged our offerings on it. Included was a branch to which I’d attached a Star of David, and several photos, including my mother’s family, Trungpa Rinpoche, and the Black Madonna of Częstochowa.

Behind us, near a statue of Moses that overlooked the park, was a small parking area.


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