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The Lilith Blog 1 of 2

November 21, 2019 by

Shhh

by Janet Rosen

Far away there was an ocean crashing dark with waves; and in the blinking flicker of the newsreels, a screaming moustache the shape of a dark razor and big flags with hard angled shapes like four bent legs running fast. Red black white. Then the flags flapped on the building where the men in hats walk to City Hall and Sieg Heil.

Yellow stars must be sewn onto even the good soft tan cashmere coat. There was a silver thimble and scissors whose blades are the beak of a stork. Without the silver thimble, ouch! and a dot of blood like the eggs that must be thrown away but lick the finger when no one is looking. The stitches go up and down like stepping on and off the curb. Then on to the street and oh! up in the air in a plane to Paris before anyone finds out. So then all of the nice clothes and toys had to be left behind. Goodbye, little rabbit!

Mutti says you must never tell a lie. But you also must not tell anyone you are Jewish, just nod and make your hand do a cross like this when they say baby Jesus, shhh. The communion wafer was a little cracker, like if a doll had a Seder. 

Allons-y mes enfants said the Sister. No Bastille Day celebration this year. Big flags again, but not the bleu blanc et rouge. The running flags. The red faced moustache continued to scream. The stones of the chateau were cool to the touch. There was a well. You mustn’t fall in it or let the soldiers see you. Shhh. Children must be quiet in case the soldiers come back.

Then au revoir, bien dormir mes amis and a ship that trembled on the sea. What ails you oh sea that you flee/the mountains skipped like rams/the hills like lambs. The children skipped out of the country and laughed on the shiny deck. There was a boat with American Quakers who looked like anyone else. Nibble crackers so as not to go sick over the railing.

There was an ocean, a big blue ocean and on the other side lived Judy Garland and Andy Hardy on a friendly Main Street with fireworks for the Fourth of July red white and blue. You didn’t always remember the sound of Mutti’s voice saying shhh be a good girl and we will be together soonHer lipstick was red on your cheek her coat was beige and very soft.

 

Janet Rosen’s nonfiction has appeared in Glamour, Paper, and Lilith. As a storyteller, she has performed at “New York Story Exchange” and “WORD the Storytelling Show.” Her previous fiction for the Lilith blog, also an imagined exploration of the inner lives of her mother and aunts, was “The Orphans.”