Xander Gershberg

Seder Nashim

Word-count: 710

Title: Seder Nashim, cut and placed in the top left of the page.

Excerpted text-block #1, produced on a typewriter in German, cut and placed in the center of the page: Ich stand plötzich als Dolmetscher zwischen den deutschen Offiyieren und den Geangenen da, stellte auf diesen Posten stramm meinen Mann. Nach kurzer Zeit entließ man die polnischen Beamten, man benötigte sie in der Administration des besiegten Landes. Ich fuhr nach Dirschau, in der Tasche hatte ich den Englassungeschein auf den Namen Vladislav Rutschinskz. Meine Uniform veranlaßte eine Frau, sich bei mir nach ihrem Gatten yu erkundigen, der sich irgendwo in Gefangenschaft befinden sollte, ich tröstete sie und versicherte ihr, daß er sehr bald hier sein werde. Zum Dank dafür ließ sie mich die Nacht in ihrer Wohnung verbringen, tischte mir das Beste aus ihrer Speisekammer auf, bereitete mire ein Bad und schenkte mire am Morgen Zivilkleider.

Text-block #2, written in a similar but updated typeset in English, cut and placed to the top-left of and hugging the earlier first block: Suddenly I become a translator between German officers and the prisoners. After a short while, they release the Polish office staff---they need them to administer the defeated country. I traveled to Dirschau in my pocket I have the release papers under the name Vladislave Ruchinsky. I leave my uniform at the apartment of a woman to whom I brought news of her husband in prison camp. I comforted her, and assured her that he will be released in the near future Thanking me, she allowed me to spend the night in her apartment, treated me to a meal, and gave me civilian clothes.

Text-block #3, written in a similar but updated typeset in English, cut and placed to the bottom-left of and hugging the first block: I suddenly found myself interpreting between the German. Officers and the prisoners, and, at this post, I was "my man" and was part of the tribe. After a short time the Polish officers were dismissed, they were needed in the administration of the defeated country. I went to Dirschau with a discharge certificate in my pocket in the name of Vladislav Rutchinsky. My uniform prompted a woman to ask me about her husband who was supposed to be in captivity somewhere. I consoled her and assured her that he would be home very soon. In return, she lets me spend the night in her apartment, serves me her pantry's best, prepared me a bath, and gave me civilian clothes in the morning.

Text-block #4, written in a contemporary font in English, cut and placed to right of the first block in a single, thin column: Willi is thrust into translation, stuck in-between [inter] people. He is surprised and explains prisoners is still an appropriate word—people named as such can still (be) release(d), although [only] into defeat. As meine Mann-"my man" or "my husband"- Willi belongs to a tribe [stramm]. Safta miscalculates the grammar of Dirschau, a city now mapped in the modem as Tczew, and its relation to the pocket, his pants. Willi, considers himself a stranger trusted by happenstance; for Safta the circumstance of his translation is an occupation. Translator is a willed disguise. Rather, the woman begins, and trusts, and brings Willi home as thanks. Safta will lead with the connotation of sex, of Willi leaving the house without clothes after delivering news of imprisonment. He had comforted her, assured her the husband would be home in the nameless near future, a soon deferred. Who would believe this news? Did Willi, or did Vladislav? News suggests a state not yet final, capable of news that would change the course or defer disaster. This is Safta's language, a slim hope of the hope within archive: she knew Willi

required a body for comfort-he sleeps and sleeps. Christmas, after all, is the document's genesis. Is comfort denial of disaster that looms, or does comfort simply appear? We argue. How he can be the comfort I don't know. He is the translator of her husband's death. In "translate" there is the Latin for "carry." Willi and the woman don't know of slaughter yet, but touch (im)mediates. In touch there is a future called morning, perhaps a prayer etymologically tied to mourning.
Xander Gershberg(he/him) is a poet, editor, and educator. His poetry is found or forthcoming at FENCE, Plume, TAB Journal, Inverted Syntax, Great River Review, Poetry Online, and elsewhere. He serves as a poetry editor for MAYDAY and on Spout Press’s editorial collective. He holds an MFA from Virginia Tech.