Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

History Isn't a Story

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

History Isn't a Story

Article excerpt

Arendt reports the court's translators were

so inept Eichmann couldn't have understood

much of what was said. Could they find

no Israeli who could speak German well?

Maybe none who could were willing. Bodies cut

down from the gallows are usually turned

over to family but Eichmann's could never be.

A patrol boat drove his ashes beyond

Israeli waters-they could not occupy

that or any nation-and sifted them

into the mute ordinary. Or tried to.

Do you suppose he couldn't speak beneath

the surface of the sea? Ten hopeful

Othellos pace the hall outside my office

in the English building, preparing

to audition. Each repeats the same lines

and any could kill. We're terrible

at rendering evil unintelligible.

It persists in rhyming itself into stories,

refrains of wave after ashen wave.

It's incredible that Venice could exist

against the repetitions of the sea,

but what could interrupt it? …

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