Tel Aviv Diary - April 18-22 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - April 18-22, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 18, 2009

do me a favor click here and tell me how you like the format. me i keep trying this and get scared because it's too easy.

April 21, 2009

Malcah Kaganovich was my mother's youngest sister. She was born in Lida in 1912. She was educated there, became a Hebrew teacher, married Meir Kravitz and moved to Dyatlovo or as the Jews called it, Zhedtl. She joined the Otranski Otriad, the Lenin Brigade, after the second Jewish massacre in Zhedtl in 1942 and was active as a fighter. These partisans were determined, armed, and concerned primarily with blowing up German trains. According to my mother Malkah was burned alive when the barn they were hiding in was ignited by the Nazis in June of 1944. According to Chaike Grossman and Abba Kovner, however, she was caught by the Germans during a mission and hung. Her husband survived. She was thirty one when she died.

This is the only photograph of her that I know anything about. At first I thought she was the one in the first row, second from the right, that looks something like my grandmother of whom i have a little faded picture, but then I saw that she might be the one peeking in the last row near the right - and she looks very much like me.

She has long been part of my life, and anyone who knows my poetry knows how much she weaves in and out of the words. Here's one blatant example:

MALCAH

Sometimes, on a quiet summer night
I smell her flesh burning.

The shack ignited by Aryan soldiers
flares up again: the informant farmer
watches from the barn.

The women scream
as my uncle
pulls them out
one by one
leaving her
perversely,
heroically,
for last.

And there she
remains
for me
my Partisan aunt
Queen of burning flesh.

April 22, 2009

I'll be discontinuing the new blog system. They want extra money for statistics and I don't like that.So come back to these pages for more news.

I found myself talking about trauma all morning. Perhaps because i was traumatized by finding that photograph yesterday, perhaps because, as one reserve soldier told me, "trauma is the norm around here." I don't want to elaborate because I try not to expose other people's problems here, but that's what this whole diary is about - trauma.

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