Where the dogs go to diePublished
Kovno where music is prayer
Misha coughs and we all shudder.
THEIR heads turn like tank turrets, always on the watch to see if we grow weak.
We are of no use to them if we cannot work.
Yet with so little food and so many people, it is not easy to remain strong.
Or to keep believing that God has a purpose for us than to let us die.
We come to this grove where the dogs came to die in the days after THEY first arrived, THEY shooting dogs here and the rest of us elsewhere.
I heard the shots and whelps of the dying beasts and thanked God they were not me – that THESE beasts in black boots had not singled out me or Misha the way THEY had the old and ill, or taking us away to some place from which none of us might return.
Misha was healthier then and we talked through the dark nights to take our minds off all that went on around us, making plans for the day when all of this comes to an end.
Then Misha got ill like so many others – the ghetto festering with diseases we can no longer resist.
Black boots striking over dirty cobble stones to pluck out any of us who might sneeze, shooting any of the rest of us who pray over their pale bodies.
We are not allowed to pray.
I hid Misha’s illness until he became too obvious, then brought him to our secret hospital where I prayed he might get better car, hoping he would recover enough to pass the next inspection, and not get sent off with the other weak people.
But he did not get better, and I had to hide him elsewhere then THEY discovered the hospital and shut it down.
Now, Misha dies before my eyes in this filthy basement, and no pray I say seems to be able to save him.
This is perhaps why I bring him here, to this place where the dogs go to die, hoping he might find life here we cannot find elsewhere.
THEY stroll through the grounds like vultures, strangely inconsistent beasts who pick and choose life and death at random.
THEY allow us no prayer but let us play music – THOSE ignorant fools not understanding how these things are the same.
Perhaps THEY only let our orchestra play in order to get us out in the open when they can better see us, and determine if we are worthy of serving the master race.
Misha seems so pale, so skinny, so pathetically vulnerable, I hold him in my arms so THEY will see less of him, and though I pray and pray, I know I am too weak to save him.
Yet perhaps because the dogs have died here, this place holds something special the rest of the ghetto lacks.
As the music plays, THEY seem less invincible, as if each note was a magic bullet piercing THEIR armor the way ordinary bullets cannot.
I feel GOD here in this place where the dogs died, and hold Misha closer to me thinking that if we must die, we shall die together.