A Hundred Gourds 4:2 March 2015

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Alexander Jankiewicz - UAE


We're sitting in the kitchen at my father's house having dinner. I notice a slight tremble in his hand. He insists it's nothing . . . just old age.

After a few moments of silence, he tells me about the time when, after he's orphaned and living on his uncle's farm in Poland, a man pleads to be hidden from the soldiers in the area. My father's uncle reluctantly agrees and hides him in a shed near the end of his land. The uncle tells the man that he'll bring food once a day. At dawn, a few days later, my dad's uncle leaves the shed unaware that there are soldiers resting in the woods. One soldier sees him come and go and becomes suspicious. He walks over to the shed and investigates. After the soldier leaves, the man peaks out the small window and sees a group standing in the distance talking. The soldier points toward the shed. The man panics and makes a run for it but is caught. An SS officer questions my father's uncle and demands to know why he's harboring a Jew. The officer orders him to get a shovel and dig two holes in front of the house. When the holes are deep enough, he's told to stop, then, without a word, the officer draws his Lugar and shoots the Jewish man in the head only feet away from the boy that is my father. The uncle is warned that if he's ever caught hiding another Jew, the second hole would be for him.

My father tells me that from that day on, the family needed to feed his uncle because his hands shook too much to feed himself. He died within six months of that day.

a shadow leaves


We awake to the sound of chainsaw buzzing. We have no idea as to what is going on outside but hope it will soon stop so that we can fall back to sleep. After a few minutes, our two daughters enter our bedroom, also awakened by the noise. My wife gets out of bed to investigate with the girls. When they look out the bedroom window, they see city workers cutting down trees in the playground just outside our apartment building. The girls start to cry and beg that we make them stop.

cherry tree blossoms

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