The Bathing Partition

14 May, 2021
“The Nymph’s Cave” by Marc Cha­gall, 1961 (image cour­tesy Sotheby’s).


Sheana Ochoa  

I met Adam at my reg­u­lar meet­ing of Alco­holics Anony­mous in West Los Ange­les. That morn­ing I had tak­en my usu­al route from the La Ciene­ga onramp to Pico Boule­vard and turned west toward the Pacif­ic. The jacaran­das were in bloom. Their dark branch­es all but dis­ap­peared behind ponds of peri­win­kle. From the mesa that is the 10 free­way, they sprawled across the city like an Impres­sion­ist painting­­­ — entire jacaran­da-lined streets of pas­tel pur­ple ablur. I turned down a side street to find the cars parked beneath the trees cov­ered with the tubu­lar shaped flow­ers — the asphalt itself a blan­ket of blos­soms. As I drove, I could hear the pop pop pop of the flow­ers expir­ing beneath my tires like bub­ble wrap. I felt as if I had des­e­crat­ed spring itself.

I arrived at the Unur­ban Café and found a seat in the win­dow­less back room, part the­atre, part gallery. Plas­tic flow­ers hung in vines from the ceil­ing in pink and yel­low, their rub­bery green leaves gleam­ing in the fee­ble light — the man­age­ment rotat­ed local artists’ work on the walls with no appar­ent sched­ule. I would show up once a week after get­ting my son off to day­care. I rarely stayed to social­ize after the meet­ing. I just need­ed the week­ly dose of recov­ery I found in a room of ex-drunks.

A wiry, elder­ly man sat amidst the rows of thread­bare the­atre seats across from me. He wore a black yarmulke, which was an unusu­al sight even in the mot­ley rooms of Los Ange­les AA. When the meet­ing opened for shar­ing, he raised his hand and said his name was Adam. 

My intro­duc­tion to and sub­se­quent fix­a­tion on Jews began when I was five years old. Sun­days we returned from church with an elbow-deep pot of menudo boil­ing on the stove, oregano and onion waft­ing through the house. After break­fast, my dad would sit in his over­stuffed chair and open one of his sec­ond­hand hard­backs. One Sun­day I climbed onto his lap, try­ing not to inter­rupt his read­ing. He licked his thumb to turn the page, and I saw the images for the first time: skele­tal peo­ple with large, implor­ing eyes. Over­sized, striped cos­tumes draped from their bod­ies. My dad explained who they were, which I could­n’t entire­ly square with my lim­it­ed scope of the world. I would return to the black and white pho­tos in my mind. Soon they became a mem­o­ry of ter­ror and help­less­ness, and at some point — around the age of sev­en when my moth­er let my alco­holic father take me away to live with him, when Sun­day church and menudo trans­formed into an itin­er­ant life of home and food inse­cu­ri­ty and I had no con­text for my feel­ings of aban­don­ment — I would think of the Jews in the Holo­caust. A sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty to save my bro­ken­heart­ed father some­how con­flat­ed with the peo­ple in the pho­tographs, who I thought were still wait­ing some­where for me to res­cue them.

In junior high I read The Diary of Anne Frank. I mar­velled at Anne’s capac­i­ty to ignite the imag­i­na­tion through books and writ­ing, and express the stir­rings of first love amidst the threat of anni­hi­la­tion. Her capa­cious zest for life trans­fig­ured the Secret Annex, her hide­away from the SS, into a won­der­land. I want­ed to learn how to use the alche­my of lan­guage to trans­form worlds, to trans­mute trau­ma. It would­n’t come as a sur­prise when I lat­er learned that my first name — cho­sen by my mom who had a cowork­er named Shay­na — was of Yid­dish ori­gin, Yid­dish itself a com­pos­ite lan­guage spo­ken by East­ern Euro­pean Jews. It made me feel cho­sen when I real­ized that I would become a writer, like Anne.

Soon after notic­ing Adam at my AA meet­ing,  I spot­ted him on the street in my neigh­bor­hood, shoe­less, stand­ing out­side the Pico-Robert­son Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter. I cir­cled the block, look­ing for a park­ing place. I felt com­pelled to stop and talk to him, not that I was con­scious­ly mak­ing any deci­sions; it was more vis­cer­al and instinc­tive, like lung­ing for a falling object.

Adam was car­ry­ing a box of new white shoes the com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter had giv­en him. Two plas­tic gro­cery bags hung loose­ly from his wrist. His thin­ning gray hair and scrag­gly beard out­lined a drawn, chis­eled face. His eyes matched the elec­tric blue sky swept clean by the San­ta Ana winds. I approached his diminu­tive frame, real­iz­ing he had no idea who I was, nor cared. I’d nev­er actu­al­ly talked to him before or noticed what was evi­dent out­side the com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter where we were stand­ing: Adam was liv­ing on the street. He sat on the side­walk to try on his new shoes.

—Hey, Adam. I’m Sheana. I see you at the meetings.

“As soon as I entered the bath­room, I real­ized my mis­take. I assumed Adam had closed the bath­tub’s slid­ing glass par­ti­tion, but it was wide open, his ropy body sub­merged under the suds. Pud­dles reflect­ed off the white tile floor like a jury of mirrors.”

He rose in his socked feet. —Sheana, he repeat­ed, rec­og­niz­ing the word as much as the name, the reac­tion most Ashke­nazi Jews have when they hear my name. Usu­al­ly they ask if I know what it means. They incant shay­na punim or shay­na maid­el and silent­ly recall their bubbe, or their first sweet­heart: pretty.

—Do you want a sand­wich? There’s a deli next door.

He nod­ded and walked with me toward the Per­sian kosher deli.

—These shoes hurt, Adam announced plain­ly, which is when I sug­gest­ed he sit at an out­side table while I ordered. As soon as he sat down the deli own­er ran out of the store, yelling at Adam to leave.

—I’m buy­ing food! I yelled back indignantly.

—This has noth­ing to do with you, the own­er said. —He comes in here and runs my cus­tomers away, shout­ing and curs­ing. He can’t stay!

I packed Adam into my front seat with his shoe­box and plas­tic bags, head­ing for home where I could feed him and find him a shel­ter. He smelled of days’ old sweat and beer. He looked at me askance, smil­ing at his good fortune.

At home, Adam shuf­fled behind me, walk­ing gin­ger­ly in his tight, new shoes. Then he sat down to remove them. His once white socks were gray as ash, but intact. I glanced as he peeled off a sock. His foot swelled with fes­ter­ing sores. They need­ed a good soak.

—I’m going to run a bath so you can soak those feet, I said, dart­ing into the bath­room where I turned on the water, squeezed the bath gel into the stream to cre­ate suds, and then to the linen clos­et for a tow­el. It was all mus­cle mem­o­ry. I’d been doing this for my son for almost three years. Run bath, make bub­bles, get tow­el. I felt con­fi­dent, capa­ble, and that Adam under­stood he was in my care. Adam stood in the hall look­ing at my gui­tar sit­ting on the couch. I dug out an old pair of sweats and a tee-shirt from the bot­tom of a draw­er and placed them atop the toi­let tank.

—Go ahead, I said, ges­tur­ing him into the bath­room and shut the door behind him.

After mak­ing sev­er­al calls, I learned the shel­ters were full for the day and one had to arrive first thing in the morn­ing to get a bed. In Alco­holics Anony­mous it’s not uncom­mon to let a mem­ber stay on the couch for a night or two, but I was­n’t com­fort­able with that in this case. I had tak­en out bread and meat for sand­wich­es when I remem­bered I had ibupro­fen in my purse. It would help with the inflam­ma­tion in his feet. I tapped on the bath­room door not think­ing about the real­i­ty of a naked stranger. In my mind, his imme­di­ate needs took prece­dence over any notion of pri­va­cy. My con­cerns were prac­ti­cal: food, med­i­cine, shel­ter. As soon as I entered the bath­room, I real­ized my mis­take. I assumed Adam had closed the bath­tub’s slid­ing glass par­ti­tion, but it was wide open, his ropy body sub­merged under the suds. Pud­dles reflect­ed off the white tile floor like a jury of mir­rors. I hand­ed him a pill with a glass of water and stood there so he could return the glass. When our eyes met, Adam looked coy, which I mis­took for gratitude.

I heard Adam emerge from the tub as I made sand­wich­es, star­ing out past the wood­en deck through the kitchen win­dow. Below I could see the lemons, the ones I could­n’t reach, mock­ing me bright­ly atop the yard’s lone tree. The back­yard butted against a row of detached ten­ant garages. They led out to the alley­way. Com­ing home, I would dri­ve through the alley direct­ly into my garage and enter my apart­ment through the back­yard. I did­n’t know how sin­gle par­ents who only had street park­ing man­aged. Did they leave the kids in the car while they unloaded the gro­ceries or unpack the car after tak­ing the kids inside? Some­times Noah fell asleep on the dri­ve home and I’d leave him in his baby seat until I put the gro­ceries away. I had lived in Los Ange­les almost twen­ty years and felt safe, but it was dif­fer­ent now with a kid. I need­ed my garage. Adam cleared his throat, pulling me from my thoughts.

 —Are you hun­gry? I asked him as he entered the kitchen. He did­n’t answer, but when he saw me car­ry­ing our plates out to the deck, he grabbed one of his plas­tic bags. A gen­tle breeze blew the sheets on the clothes­line. An ice cream truck ambled down the street. Adam bare­ly nib­bled at his sand­wich. Sit­ting there I could see his clean, raw feet close up. They were a mess. No won­der he could­n’t wear shoes. I found my white ter­rycloth slip-ons — topped with pink bows — and offered them to him. They fit fine.

—There are no avail­able beds at the shel­ters, I said.

—You’ll nev­er see me in one of those places, Adam scowled. —I’d rather live on the street.

A burn­ing sen­sa­tion rose to my shoul­ders as I real­ized he was­n’t inter­est­ed in what was on offer down­town, that my phone calls had been in vain. He shook his head as if dis­gust­ed with my sug­ges­tion of a shel­ter. From his bag he removed his Torah as well as an emp­ty forty-ounce beer bot­tle and some tan­ger­ines. He placed these items next to his sand­wich and offered me a tan­ger­ine. I peeled it. The skin came off entire­ly in one piece. Dried, white molt encased the col­or­less fruit beneath. 

After lunch I moved my car out to the street so Adam could spend the night in my garage. The side­boards and rafters, redo­lent of an old coun­try barn, would almost be homey if the place had win­dows and you put in a clean floor. The late after­noon sun shone through cracks in the wood. I brought down a sleep­ing bag and some can­dles. Adam pulled my cool­er from a cor­ner of the garage to use as a table. He spread out the sleep­ing bag next to the cool­er. When he seemed set­tled, I turned to go, feel­ing relieved he did­n’t expect me to enter­tain him.

—I have work to do, I said, but I’ll bring some din­ner later.

—And your gui­tar, he queried, reveal­ing yel­low, rot­ting teeth as he smiled for the first time. The smile shat­tered an unac­knowl­edged impres­sion I had of him. It said, “I know what I’m doing.”

—It has a bro­ken string, I said.

—I can still play it, he assured me.

Lat­er that after­noon I picked my son up from day­care. We went out for Mex­i­can. I ordered a bur­ri­to for Adam. The sun­set poured from the hori­zon like a vio­let Rorschach and bled into the thin­ning clouds.

—Noah, look at the sky!

—It’s pur­ple like the jacaran­da, Mommy.

He pro­nounced the “j” like an “h” the way I taught him, the way you say it in Spanish.

At home I put in a Baby Ein­stein video while I ran down to the garage. Adam had the garage door open so he could see by moon­light, but I did­n’t feel safe hav­ing the back­yard acces­si­ble to the alley.

—Don’t keep that open, I said, hand­ing him the burrito.

Back upstairs Noah asked, —Where did you go, Mommy?

—I was just check­ing on the garage, I said.

I scrubbed the ring of grime from the tub with Comet before run­ning Noah’s bath. Lat­er that night, after I put Noah to bed, I found Adam read­ing from his Torah by can­dle­light. He had tak­en down sev­er­al things I kept stored in the rafters. In the flick­er­ing light an arti­fi­cial Christ­mas tree stood lop­sided on the cement floor. A five-gal­lon paint buck­et made a good chair. Old art­work I had­n’t got­ten around to throw­ing out lined a wall. A close-up pho­to­graph of a bal­le­ri­na on tip­toe, her light salmon slip­pers anti­quat­ed from use. A tapes­try of fla­men­co dancers my father had glued onto ply­wood and giv­en me.

I hand­ed Adam my gui­tar and asked if there was any­thing else he need­ed. He answered by ask­ing if my son got to bed all right. It was inno­cent, but I did­n’t want Noah involved in any capac­i­ty with Adam. He need­ed to be pro­tect­ed from the trau­ma I had nev­er named or dealt with, the con­fla­tion between the after­math of my par­ents’ divorce and the col­lec­tive hor­ror of the Holo­caust. The end of my child­hood dove­tailed between these two real­i­ties along with an over­whelm­ing sense of being some­how at fault.

When Adam opened his book, I saw that it was in Hebrew. He said he had gone to rab­bini­cal school. I thought, I’m prac­ti­cal­ly har­bor­ing a rab­bi in my garage. 

—You’re inter­est­ed in learn­ing Hebrew? he asked.

I nod­ded. I had often thought about what it would be like to con­vert to Judaism, but it was one of those half-heart­ed desires trumped by the more imme­di­ate ones of fin­ish­ing my first book and rais­ing a kid I’d elect­ed to have as a sin­gle moth­er, the sole par­ent respon­si­ble for keep­ing the fam­i­ly and my son’s child­hood intact.

—I could give you lessons for the garage.

I did­n’t know what to say. The idea of Adam liv­ing in my garage took up enough room in my head to be dis­missed the way you’d sen­ti­men­tal­ly want to adopt a street kid on your trav­els until you thought it through. I men­tioned the shel­ter again. He said he had stayed in shel­ters and he was not going back. That’s when I real­ized I had to take him to the AA meet­ing in the morn­ing and leave him there. I leaned over to try to straight­en the Christ­mas tree, but its base was dam­aged. The nerve of him, I thought, going through my things with­out asking.

Adam picked up my gui­tar and strummed a famil­iar melody.

—There’s some­thing else I’d like, he said, com­ing back to my ques­tion. A radio. I brought one down, and then sat at the edge of the sleep­ing bag. Adam tuned the radio to a jazz station.

The moon was on the rise. The flut­ter­ing can­dle­light cast point­ed shad­ows along the dis­joint­ed side­boards. I did­n’t ask if he had fam­i­ly and he did­n’t ask if my son had a father. We could have been any­one any­where. Min­ers on break. A boy and girl dis­cov­er­ing an aban­doned shack. Trav­el­ers seek­ing shel­ter. Mahalia Jack­son’s “Come Sun­day” ani­mat­ed the walls with some­thing like breath. We lis­tened togeth­er, two parish­ioners at Sun­day church, our wood­en chapel expand­ing and col­laps­ing with hearty, gospel verse.

Over half a cen­tu­ry after Anne Frank was killed in Auschwitz, I trav­eled there by train. I was nine­teen. The town of Birke­nau is less than two miles away from the camp. I was appalled by a com­mu­ni­ty of orange tiled-roof hous­es dot­ting the road. It felt unholy to have a home in sight of the camp. How does one say I live in Birke­nau? I imag­ine it’s no dif­fer­ent nowa­days than when it was a killing fac­to­ry: by immu­ni­ty. The site becomes as banal, as quo­tid­i­an as the local gro­cery. When you live amidst some­thing day in and day out, it becomes invis­i­ble, and yet every­thing that exists even­tu­al­ly becomes embodied.

I walk through the entrance to the camp. Steel cut let­ter­ing spells out Arbeit Macht Frei in cap­i­tals over­head, but I am not trans­port­ed. My field of vision extends a mere three feet in front of my face as if I am wear­ing side-blind­ers. This keeps me from inte­grat­ing my sens­es in any cohe­sive way. My mind folds in on itself, leav­ing an inex­tri­ca­ble numb­ness of pres­ence. I have no map, no tour guide. I aim­less­ly enter a build­ing where I pass the win­dowed rooms with mounds of shoes, pros­thet­ics, spec­ta­cles and valis­es. I look for some­thing that has­n’t already been inter­pret­ed for me by pho­tog­ra­phers, film­mak­ers and his­to­ri­ans. Some­thing that I have to reck­on with by myself.

I fol­low the train tracks to the arrival plat­form at Birke­nau, or Auschwitz II. It’s so famil­iar it feels cliché. I walk into the bar­racks and look down one of the cement holes of the com­mu­nal latrines. I imag­ine hid­ing below there in the shit-sludge. I know this too is not an orig­i­nal thought; it is a scene in a sto­ry I’ve read or a film I’ve seen. I return to Auschwitz I, where I wan­der around the yard. I can’t seem to con­nect the dots. I look up. I am stand­ing beneath a wood­en struc­ture built for pub­lic hang­ings, direct­ly where a body, many bod­ies, had been hanged. I remain where I am to see if I can feel any­thing. There could be a haunt­ing. Or am I try­ing too hard? I step away because I can’t bear to take up that space on the plan­et. I have not returned to my body, not because I have been placed at the scene of the crime, but because the crime is too immense to inhabit.

I walk into Cell Block Eleven, still with­out a sense of ground­ing or nar­ra­tive by which to stitch the expe­ri­ence. And then in a nar­row yard, between this and anoth­er brick build­ing, there it is: the Death Wall. It stands storm-cloud gray and porous as if made of lava rock. The wall is at least eight feet tall and shaped like a prosce­ni­um arch, the bet­ter to con­tain the pris­on­ers exe­cut­ed by gun­fire against it. Blind­ers off, I play out the scene: men and women are made to undress in Cell Block Eleven. They queue up to be marched before the wall, which absorbs each day’s pis­tol-slung blood. I don’t want the real­i­ty in front of me. I want a Secret Annex of dis­cov­ery, romance, and hope.

I touch the dry pumice. The con­tact of flesh and stone trans­ports me else­where. A trick of the mind. What I learned from Anne Frank. It serves to pro­tect. And so, I envi­sion not a wall, but a par­ti­tion. Yes, a bathing par­ti­tion of the Art Nou­veau tra­di­tion you find in bath­hous­es in Budapest. The par­ti­tion sep­a­rates the men’s from the wom­en’s baths, its sur­face cov­ered in gold-specked cerulean blue tiles. You can smell the loamy heal­ing waters. And the brick build­ing that in some alter­nate uni­verse is referred to as Cell Block Eleven trans­forms into a chang­ing room for the bath’s patrons. They undress leisure­ly from their con­strict­ing street clothes into swimwear. They enter the court­yard wear­ing can­dy-striped, high-waist­ed suits and rub­ber swim­ming caps. Two girls are gig­gling. A grande dame snaps open her para­sol, spark­ing an irrev­er­ent whis­tle from the lips of a young man in belt­ed trunks, lean­ing against the bathing par­ti­tion. With a dis­mis­sive flut­ter of her eye­lash­es she forges a detour away from the Riv­er Styx.

The morn­ing after Adam’s stay in my garage, he was blar­ing the radio — Beethoven’s Ninth. I hur­ried to get my son ready for day­care. We hus­tled out the front of the apart­ment and down the stairs to my car. I drove around to the alley to find the garage door open again, and Adam per­form­ing his ablu­tions from the paint buck­et he had filled with water.

—Mom­my, who is that? My son’s eyes widened at the man in our garage.

—Just a minute, mijo. I’ll be right back, I said, park­ing against my neigh­bor’s garage door.

—It’s too loud, I told Adam as I walked over to the radio and turned it off. —I’ll be back in five min­utes and we’ll go to the meeting.

Real­iz­ing my son was in the back­seat of the car, Adam walked up to the win­dow, wav­ing hel­lo. My son scanned the gan­g­ly fig­ure and looked back at me. Adam told me he did­n’t want to go to a meet­ing. I drove off, weigh­ing my options.

—Mom­my, why did that man have your slip­pers on? 

At the meet­ing I explained that I need­ed to get Adam out of my garage. My friend Bill offered to help. When we got back to my apart­ment, we found Adam on my deck drink­ing a bot­tle of beer, his feet propped up, play­ing my guitar.

—Hey Adam, I hear you don’t want to stay at a shel­ter? Bill said.

—Who are you?

—You know me, Bill, from the meet­ing. Hey guy, you can’t stay here. Some­one lives here.

—I know that! Adam snapped, ris­ing. He looked at me, con­fused. He sat back down and picked up the gui­tar. —If Sheana has some­thing to tell me she can say it herself.

 —You can’t stay in my garage, Adam, I said, recall­ing how Adam had tried to barter Hebrew lessons for the garage. Had I made it clear that that was not an option?

—You heard her. You don’t want to get her evicted.

Adam put down the gui­tar and head­ed toward me. Bill stepped between us.

—I want to talk to Sheana, Adam said.

—Get your things, Bill said, reach­ing for Adam’s plas­tic bags. Adam snatched them away. Bill tugged Adam’s shirt in an effort to remove him from the deck.

—Get your hands off me! Adam said, swat­ting at Bill.

I thought Bill was going to take a swing. —Please, Adam, can you just leave? I asked.

Adam froze, star­ing at me. —I will! I’ll leave now that you said some­thing, Sheana! He start­ed down the stairs. Bill fol­lowed him and saw him out through the alley.

Lat­er that after­noon Adam was back at my front door as if pay­ing me a vis­it. He hand­ed me a clean plas­tic bag. Inside was a tod­dler-size hood­ie for my son, striped yel­low and brown. Guilt made me take it. Sen­ti­ment made me wash it and dress Noah in it the next day. I pre­sumed it was some sort of part­ing gift. The day after, Adam was at my door again.

—Adam, I don’t feel com­fort­able with you hang­ing out around here.

—You should­n’t have looked at me that way then, Sheana.

I raised my eyebrows.

—You know what I’m talk­ing about, he con­tin­ued. —I was naked in your bath­tub and you stood there look­ing at me long­ing­ly. I saw a light in your eyes. You should­n’t have smiled at me that way.

I flashed back to hand­ing Adam the ibupro­fen, being sur­prised that he had­n’t closed the glass partition.

After Adam left, I called the police. Two men in uni­form showed up, telling me I should be more care­ful. That I can’t go around bring­ing peo­ple off the streets to my home.

—He will keep com­ing, the cop told me, —because you’re the most impor­tant per­son in his life right now.

Sev­er­al days went by with­out word. I went to the AA meet­ing half expect­ing him to show up. Late one night, after my son was asleep, the door­bell rang. I looked through the peep­hole at Adam’s dis­tort­ed face. I kept quiet.

—I thought we had a deal, he said through the door.

And we had, had­n’t we? Sit­ting by can­dle­light, lis­ten­ing to Mahalia Jack­son. By giv­ing him refuge, I was try­ing to cre­ate my own. Two refugees, that’s what we had been. It was as if by sav­ing him I could alle­vi­ate the guilt I’d been car­ry­ing around since child­hood, since first see­ing the Holo­caust pic­tures and think­ing I could save them, since tak­ing my mom’s place emo­tion­al­ly for my dad, for fail­ing at both. Irra­tional, I know, but trau­ma is com­pound­ed this way, illog­i­cal and messy, lead­ing you into a shad­ow­land of shame. After sev­er­al min­utes stand­ing there, I crept back to my bed­room like a child up after bed­time, try­ing not to get caught.

The next day I came home and found a white peony on my doorstep. When I picked it up half the petals fell off. Its fil­a­ments dis­in­te­grat­ed as I car­ried it to the trash, tawny rem­nants falling on my hard­wood floor. Lat­er that night, he rang again. I did­n’t go to the door this time. He left a bag of lemons on the stairs. I thought about call­ing the police again, but real­ized they could­n’t do any­thing. Even­tu­al­ly, he stopped coming.

A year lat­er, I was leav­ing an AA meet­ing on Vine Street in Hol­ly­wood when I saw Adam again. He was stand­ing out­side, disheveled, rock­ing from one foot to the oth­er on the curb. I fin­ished exchang­ing num­bers with a woman I had met, hop­ing the crowd would­n’t thin out and leave me exposed. I heard a cou­ple AAs say hel­lo to Adam. The three of them walked up the street in the direc­tion of where my car was parked. The trio part­ed at the inter­sec­tion where Adam leaned against a waist-high con­crete wall out­lin­ing a strip mall. This is sil­ly, I thought. I can’t wait him out. I began walk­ing toward my car. As I approached Adam, his eyes did­n’t seem to reg­is­ter me or any­thing else. I took out my cell phone and pre­tend­ed to be engrossed with it. I wait­ed at the cross­walk, Adam now only a few feet behind me. He was unaware of me, fad­ed as he was from the world of col­or. I got in my car and head­ed home.

The jacaran­das were in bloom. I took Vine south and made my way onto June Street. Petals blan­ket­ed the curb-side cars, their wind­shields frost­ed in pur­ple snow. An untouched car­pet lay ahead of me along the asphalt and I could already hear the pop pop pop of their expi­ra­tion beneath my tires. I pressed on the brakes and turned around. The flow­ers had fall­en, but their tubu­lar forms were still puffed out and present. I left them that way on the street. Their integri­ty still in tact.


AAAnne FrankHolocausthomelessnessidentityJewishtrauma

Sheana Ochoa is a Latinx multi-genre writer. Her first book, Stella! Mother of Modern Acting, is the first biography of legend Stella Adler. Her bylines include the Los Angeles Times, AlterNet, Salon, Film International, The London Economic and, among others. She has been publishing her poetry for over twenty years, more recently in Tahoma Literary Review, Catamaran and The Best American Poetry 2018. Find her on Twitter.


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