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The Woman at Work
By David Meuel

Her eyes would leap up
from the work on her desk.
And then--in German--
she would shout, her words
delivered to memories
lurking in the air above,
memories, I was told,
of the concentration camp
where soldiers made her watch
as her parents died.

This was how it was,
often many times a day,
in that enormous room
where we processed dividends.
No one ever complained.

Instead, we lived a simple rule:
when her eyes leapt up,
we kept ours bowed down, hearing
while pretending not to hear.
This was how we honored privacy
in that very public place,
how we feebly made amends
for others of our race.

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Document last modified on: 01/23/2000

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