Morning time in the old German village where we once lived. The narrow stone roads that feel like a labyrinth, more for pedestrians than cars. The sound of tire tread when cars pass slow. Everyone smoking. Past the Italian bakery to the old church with a good long view. A small playground, stone steps leading down. How many nights and mornings I stood there taking it all in. The wonder of living in Europe beneath this ancient sky.
Past the church, the music school once a prison, where they locked up intellects and Jews during the war. The time we saw our American friend Sonia sing there, a lesbian Jew, playing “Imagine.” How the song traveled across time and space to exactly where it needed to be.
The elementary school Charlotte went to, they call it the brown school: crude looking, blocky. Our friend Christoph says the principal was a Nazi sympathizer during the war, and it has that gloom hanging over it still. The windows full of crooked drawings made by the kids, springtime witches for the equinox when they drag out their dried Christmas trees and throw them on the bonfire.
Too long we’ve been living in monotone, stuck inside. Short walks to the lake in the morning, brown trees along the roads, some on their sides. The sing-song repetition distorts the pace of life. Slows it down, speeds it up, feels like a waiting place between worlds. I can take myself back five years to when we lived in Europe and what it was like on those mornings walking around the small town. I can see it from a distance across time and space but it lacks depth and falls out at the bottom.
Sometimes I try to put myself in the perspective of the birds flying over the lake, what it must look like looking down. I did that in Germany looking back over the old town, trying to pick out my mom’s house from the middle. And kept a picture of the same view in a frame at my cubicle at work, a wish for getting out, for going back.
We are too long indoors stuck on the same rung. Put me on a boat or a plane and carry me away.