Hold On

From the Pruzany District to Auschwitz to New York City my father never once squandered a meal let alone the residual potato water stored away like contraband in the back corner of the fridge. Nobody could get through to him that the work in the Ghetto which once set him free is now the very thing that shackles him & despite his seldom smiles and bellowed laughs with a cigarette dangling between his lips & a whiskey firm in grip, the memory of a former family ripples and floods like a tsunami & much like the child at the top of a roller coaster he clutches on for dear life awaiting the wave to swallow him & to pierce the army of veins streaming to his heart so fierce that the suppressed voice of his son Alexander, the son that should have lived, the son that speaks Polish tongue & recites the alphabet backwards, the son who plays Chopin by heart with ice blue eyes headed for the moon will simmer to the surface & my father sighs when he notices me with my baseball mitt & dullish brown eyes when I ask to play catch in Central Park & even though it’s Sunday he must leave for work because food doesn’t just appear out of thin air, Who do you think gives you new clothes? Who do you think gives you a warm bed? Who do you think gives you this world? So I stay in the park & stare at the clouds merging together like new friends & later that night I wend my way home to find my father hooked by rope swaying inches above the floor & at this moment all I can remember is how I forgot to drink the leftover potato water in the back corner of the fridge & so I rush to find that the container filled with the sour liquid is empty & before the sirens or the neighbors or the doorman arrive I just try to hold on hold on hold on.

Ezra Solway writes in Philadelphia, where he will be a MFA candidate in fiction at Temple University this fall. His work is forthcoming in Jersey Devil Press, Jewish Fiction .net, and Flash Fiction Magazine. His website: https://www.ezrasolway.com.

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