Our Mother's Bones
Antonios Maltezos

If I could write my mother, I'd tell her you've ruined my hands. I'll say it was Karl, Greta's son, the boy who'd wolfed down the strudels before they'd even cooled. She'd never seen such hunger, the skin around your mouth blistering as she splashed cool water on your face. She cooked through the night just so you wouldn't burn your mouth the next day. Those were my strudels you ate, Karl.
Toss me your leather gloves and I'll dig even faster. We could move farther away from the guard tower where the ground is already littered with chips of the wall and shards of greasy bone, start a fresh hole where the earth is softer. I'll dream of writing my mother, telling her how Karl, Greta's son, showed me some mercy in the end.
Karl, surely you remember I played the piano as a child? Surely you remember my mother placing your own fingers on the keys, telling you to forget everything else and just picture the hammers striking the wires. You were like her son then.
My hands are ruined, Karl.
Whose bones are these, Karl? You were different as a boy, as I remember you, terribly quiet, the laces gone from your shoes. Is this a woman's skull, Karl? My mother would have laced up your shoes for you, but she didn't want your own mother angry, keeping you from coming back. It was my father who'd advised, Karl. It was my father who'd gone next door, told your mother to round you up. She'd have done it anyway. My mother would have laced up your shoes, but you never came back.
Do you remember me now, Karl?