by Michelle Ephraim

Why I became an English Professor

For a child of Holocaust survivors, Shakespeare is a refuge

A child named Elizabeth accompanies her aunt to the dentist in Worcester, Massachusetts, in Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “In the Waiting Room.” When her aunt’s cries suddenly burst forth from an unseen examining room, Elizabeth experiences a kind of identity crisis: “I said to myself three days/ and you’ll be seven years old./ I was saying it to stop/the sensation of falling off/ the round, turning world/ into cold, blue-black space.” Elizabeth understands that her youthful frivolity is a prelude to a world of adult pain.

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