Garden and Nature in Words

What is Humility

Mendel forgot about the smell of mouldy potatoes and the damp earth of rural Ukraine
while strolling along the Avenue des Champs-Elysees
stroking the hands of a girl that was not his first cousin
so sure he had escaped the yoke
yet surprised when shipped back to the same damp earth
with rows of huts laid out like an expectant crop
already a full bloom of barbed wire and spotlights

As a child I spent many hours looking for my Great Uncle Mendel in those camp photos
all black and white
with the corpses heaped together
a grotesque puzzle of human parts
all seemingly made to fit one in and around the other
unable to distinguish which parts were from a man or a woman
or if those parts were once from a Jew or a Pole or a Communist or whatever else was caught in the net

You could toss anything into that pile
and never be sure that it once beat with life
like that girl at school that thought she was so much better than me
as if I was the Ukrainian peasant and she was the cosmopolitan
so far from the farm that the dirt from those potatoes never caught under her nails
and it could be her in that pile next to Mendel
both thinking they were too good to be food for the worms

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