He shuffled, right foot followed crookedly, but steadily, by left to the table. He held the small mug of tea gingerly between his slender fingers. Drops threatened to spill over the mug's thin lip with each measured step. But his ambition was greater than his gait. He sat.
I accepted the mug, placing it softly on the table - but far enough away from my file. "Drink, drink. Your hair. So much like my niece."
"But Mr. Mandel, this policy. I want to make sure - the firm wants to make sure - you understand that it will cover many of these bills. You simply need to help me complete this form ..."
"Yes, yes. With your help. And maybe you can come back another time. But just for tea. And to talk? Yes, I would very much enjoy that."
To look at them, his eyes swam in clouded oceans. Focused, but buried. Layered, as they were, behind truths and terrors too ugly to release back into the world. But he shared names. And yellowed photos. And the smallest details, somehow large enough to bridge some of the space between us. A space measuring only one foot. But in that foot, decades and miles, and a different world lay between his thin hand and mine, unblemished as it was.
His brother. His sister. His aunt. His mother. Though his walk was tortured and his journey long, still he carried them. In his eyes and on his tongue. It was the only way they made it out.
Yesterday, I drank with him, bearing witness to his message. Today, I mourn for our children who will not have the opportunity to greet such ghosts on the lips of their messengers.
"Walk to Caesarea" - Hannah Szenes
(Eli, Eli) My G-d, My G-d, I pray that these things never end,
The sand and the sea,
The rustle of the waters,
The lightning of the Heavens,
The prayer of woman and man.
The voice called, and I went.
I went, because the voice called.