Page 44 - WTP Vol. VII #1
P. 44

Hiding (continued from preceding page) Marais? Valerie asks.
Two days later, I leave Paris for Auvillar, a village in southwest France where I’ve been staying. At a wine tasting, I meet Judy a woman who lives in Califor- nia. We are standing inside a stone building among wooden kegs and wooden benches. The scent of wine fills the air. Judy is exuberant. So happy to be in France where she and her husband will live for five months. She names the town. Because I am searching for Germaine’s landscape, I ask if that town is near Beaulieu. “Oh, yes. Very near.”
 “The Marais?”
“The Jewish section. The pletzl.”
“Oh, yes. Please.”
Walking along rue des Rossiers, I can hardly absorb the colors, the sounds, the energy of these pass- ersby, smartly dressed women walking in pairs
or alone, some pushing strollers, men wearing
suits and carrying briefcases. The sweet smell of butter and yeast wafts from Sasha Finkelstajn, a Jewish bakery displaying what my grandmother used to call air kikhl, air cookies because they are crispy, crunchy and light as air. The narrow street conserves the style of medieval France, no sweep- ing Napoleonic boulevards, no cars. Here people walk or bicycle. They sit at outdoor tables drinking coffee, drinking wine, eating smoked salmon and fragrant cheeses on slices of baguette. I would like to linger, but we have no time. I hurry past jewelry stores and fashion houses. Valerie points out Pan- zer, a delicatessen with a Star of David, it’s date written according to the Hebrew calendar: Since 5755. An orthodox man wearing a black suit, a wide brimmed hat, passes by, and it is as if he, the deli, the Star of David are remnants of a lost culture. But no, the Marais is once again heavily Jewish, Valerie tells me.
And to be sure, I ask, again. “Beaulieu sur Dordogne?”
I learn later that the community dates back to the thirteenth century. But the Jewish presence was not continuous. Jews lived in the Marais between expul- sions until the French Revolution when Napoleon Bonaparte granted Jews religious and civil freedom.
Correct, I must go there. But not because Beaulieu is one of France’s beaux villages, but because I want
to walk the streets Germaine walked, alone at first, then with her young Resistance fighter lover. I want to wander into the countryside, searching for the children’s home. Will anyone remember? Or tell me? I want to wash my hands in the river, the beauti-
Valerie is a fast walker. We rush to a side street where she points to a plaque.
ful Dordogne, remembering Leo Cohn and all who walked a narrow precipice of courage and danger, some surviving, others not. I want to pass into. I want not to pass, not to hide. I want to be present.
“260 enfants Juifs de cette ecole deportes en Allemagne durant la seconde guerre mondale furent extermines
dans les camps Nazis
Go there.
Loosely translated, the inscription reads: “Two-hun- dred-and-sixty Jewish children in this school were de- ported by the Germans during the Second World War for extermination in the Nazi camps. Do not forget.”
Originally published in Ascent, of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota.
Morse’s nonfiction has been noted in The Best American Essays and published in Creative Nonfiction, Ploughshares, the New England Review, among others. She is the recipient of the Michael Steinberg essay prize, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Push- cart Prize. Morse holds an MA in English with a concentration in fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire, NH, and an MALS with a concentration in the humanities from Dartmouth College, NH.
N’oubliez pas”
“Yes, yes.” Judy steps closer. “You’ll love Beaulieu. It’s a beaux village. Do you know what that means?”
She is a friendly woman, and I try to be friendly back, but deep memory distracts me, my own haunted im- ages glimpsed in newsreels of skeletal bodies stacked like cord wood, of prisoners staring vacantly through barbed wire fencing. I answer, impatiently, “Historic. Like Auvillar.”
Ignoring my clipped tone, she answers graciously. “Exactly. You must go there.”
Excusing myself, I step outside. “Beaulieu,” Judy calls after me. “Go there.”

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