Letter to a Wall

By Racheline Maltese

I am a story teller. I came here to write about this place, but that is suddenly not what I am doing.

I cried here at your wall today, but I don't know a single person on it. Every time I see a name that reminds me of one I know, I twitch. I do know people who were there. I do know how easily things could be reversed. And I don't know what I'd do without these people. So, I guess I need to thank you for them.

I am only 21. I do not remember the war when it was happening. I did not learn about it in school. To see these men and women with their shirts and flags shakes me. Seeing the things people have left here shakes me. A picture of Jimi Hendrix, a bottle of Seagrams 7, a pack of cigarettes have reduced me to tears.

I wonder if you watch us, if you see this. If you'd like to say thank you for these gifts. I wonder if we mourn for you or for ourselves.

I came here recently before dawn, and it was empty. The wind was knocking over your flowers, and squirrels were playing on top of your black ledge. I stood at the apex of a wall, I guess at the apex of a war; and it started to pour. I just stood there.

I live near here so I visit often now. Thank you for giving me something to understand...or to try to; these days, there is very little I understand. I can give you nothing but these words.

But I promise I'll bring my kids here one day, make them remember, make it somehow more than just another story.

copyright May 31, 1994, by Racheline Maltese, all rights reserved