Soup Has Many Eyes: From Shtetl to Chicago - One Family's Journey through History
Soup Has Many Eyes: From Shtetl to Chicago - One Family's Journey through History
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  • ISBN-13: 9780553380729
  • ISBN: 0553380729
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group



Slowly, by degrees, I wake. From under the comforter, I slip out of Dad's embrace, leaving those inscrutable coordinates of sleep that splay from the point where all space begins, where all time meets. Where dreams unite people, out of sequence, out of place. My feet burn as they touch the floor, unable to cipher for a moment whether it is heat or cold that shocks them. Some mornings I'm so perforated with fear, so gape-mouthed with awe at the undertaking of another day, that in order to reach the window, I pass over live coals, over ice undercut with chasm. Outside, the colorless scrim between sleep and waking begins to lift, and from the haze, apparitions of the familiar seep into shape: a density in the distance that will darken into Mount Nittany, the spreading red maple by the road, the shed; the forty-foot blue spruce that, when you were three, Josh, you climbed bough by bough to the top as I gardened. "Joshy," I called. "Come down, you are too high." "No, I'm not," you replied. "I'm more than that. I'm three high, four high, five high." In the widening, granular light, forms are so blurry, a moth wouldn't be able to find a leaf or twig substantial enough to grasp. Cries of a cardinal pickax their bright metal into the morning, the crimson flight across the yard as startling as blood outside the body. I tiptoe downstairs in an erratic pattern to avoid the maze of creaks that plague old wood. Not that there is anybody to wake now. Both of you are gone and Dad sleeps heavily. But just as new habits are hard to form because we forget to use them, old habits perpetuate because we forget to stop. I discovered that along with the true meaning of "body of knowledge" when our beloved dog, Chita, died. My head knew she was gone, but it was well over a month before I could get out of bed without wide-stepping over her place on the floor. The body holds on to what it knows far longer than the brain. In the kitchen, I pour some coffee and sip in the silence. Sweet and milky, it rolls down my throat opening round as an O. Astonished, I begin the day just as if I had never before tasted the elixir of that first swallow of coffee, never felt the exquisite lick of morning light warming my chilled skin, never experienced the sweet pressure of chair rungs holding up my body like outside bones. All this newness despite the fact that I am surrounded by visible history. Over in the corner, holding the spider plant, is the junior chair that held each of you long before you learned that the world turns on its own without your spinning. You learned quickly, though. When you were six, Josh, you came into the kitchen while I was scrambling eggs and said, "Mommy, did you know that if you woke up in the middle of the night, the kitchen would be where the living room is?" "How does that happen?" I asked. "Because," you replied, "every day the world turns the whole way round." Perhaps that's the reason I can never find my way to where I'm supposed to be--the green center that eludes the chomp of chaos. Sometimes when I'm driving along the highway, the road hums under the tires as they revolve over traffic strips grooved like a phonograph record. Was it National Geographic that postulated the theory? -- recreating the voices and sounds of ancient artisans by placing a phonograph needle on a round clay pot and following the ridges made by the potter's tool. And what sound might have been captured? Would humming be heard, some heart, unleashed from time and flesh, spinning out from an ancient potter's wheel? Or instead, hoarse hawkings, a rusty guffaw? Some stories from the past may be as speculative as sound twisted from the carapace of a vanished potter. But not yours, Jonny and Josh. Not this story. Not when you can look at a photograph of your Aunt Lisa taken in 1937 and see a bandageLeonard, Joann Rose is the author of 'Soup Has Many Eyes: From Shtetl to Chicago - One Family's Journey through History' with ISBN 9780553380729 and ISBN 0553380729.

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