Though bearded on Flatbush
I was a name in the village of Dremska, in precipitous tapestry-like Dremska, on the slopes of Dremskappel, where the same side always won at soccer. We sledded everywhere and our mothers were grey by forty, all ten mothers, like sisters to themselves.
I was the smallest of the boys, the dumbest. I tended the girls, who were at the time of my smallness and dumbness infected with something. I had it slightly, and the grandmothers had it and most could no longer move. One first felt spaghetti wriggling under the back, and sought new reposeful contortions among pillows and never sufficient heaped clothes. One would imagine that other people were terribly sad.
Eyeing me with unspeakable pity, the girls would try to give me their belongings, slip off pajamas and pull me into bed, as though to relieve my suffering. I felt terrible pity for them. Their skin was afire, pale, but really they hadn’t the strength to do what they wanted.
So we would lie looking into each other’s faces weeping tears of pity until sleep took us, and then wake up and look at the sleeper with insupportable tenderness and feel the impulse to suffocate. The girls would suffocate me every chance they got, and I was tempted to gratify them, but in the end my reflexes would toss them easily aside. I would dress then under eyes beseeching me to forgive this failure, returning me to the day.
It was an ideal life.
I soon outgrew the sickness, and a year or so later the girls recovered completely. Even today, in the first moment of waking, I could remember how it felt exactly, to be handled with such pity, such tenderness.