Come Here I Have Something to Show You
These girls, so like ponies, so spirited they stampeded the school and galloped out the windows. It was contagious. I arrived in the morning from the other side of the ocean with two buses over, or later, after, on the four-subway ride. I peeled off, piece by piece, the generations of greenhorns, of short hunchbacked babushkaed women wearing drab dark colored dresses and aprons, laced shoes, and stockings rolled at the knees. Women smiling from prune wrinkled cheeks and eyes that told stories you wouldn’t want to hear.
As I crossed Lexington Avenue the last shred of old world accent, of lilting intonation, of the sound of black tea being sucked through a cube of sugar, all that would lie discarded on the ground. I checked my boots at the door of the red brick building to scrape off residue of cow dung from the village of Kazimierz, the last trace of mud sprayed by the horses of Cossacks when they came last night and set fire to our home. I loosened my hair from its neat ribbon, and put on some Ambush, the cologne that covered that lingering whiff of cabbage cooked for hours on the stove.
Each day I would open the school door and breathe in the silence, smell the blessing of absence, and wait to contract the “American” disease. I was ravenous.