Sunday, November 8, 1931
Rebecca and Eli ambled down the chilly sidewalk hand in hand, their bodies close enough to keep each other warmer than if they walked alone. Rebecca fiddled with her rose colored knit hat her mother gave her. Benches lined the sidewalk outside the park and they cozily sat side by side on one in the middle.Eli wrapped his arm around Rebecca and saw her nose turning a fast red. He rubbed it with his hands, a task Rebecca was becoming familiar with. Laughing at her easy vulnerability to the cold, he took off his long strapped, leather brown bag carrying a few books and laid it across his legs. He took out a book, laid his head on her lap and gazed up at her. Though certainly taboo, being around her made him feel free. Caressing his face, her fingers touched his cheeks and forehead and then circled around to his chin.
“Feels like you've missed a shave again,” Rebecca remarked without feeling she would offend him.
“You are a very perceptive young woman.” He raised an index finger in emphasis. “I'll have to remedy my error later.”
“No error,” she smiled wide. “I kind of like it, all rough and manly.”
She lowered her head to his and Eli planned to give her a peck on the lips. Yet, after their lips touched, he lingered there and then laid his head back on the warmth of her lap garbed in a thick dark wool skirt. Eli opened the book.
“Who are we reading today?” Rebecca asked.
“Heinrich Heine, a German poet of Jewish origin.”
“Oh.” Rebecca teased with catty intonation.
“Are you mocking me?” Eli asked halfheartedly with the look of sensuality in his dark brown eyes.
“I really do love poetry,” she insisted. Eli flipped through a few pages and read aloud, loud enough for her to hear and soft enough for the words to travel through the ears of the strangers passing by.
E'EN as A LOVELY FLOWER
by: Heinrich Heine (1799-1856)
E'en as a lovely flower, so fair, so pure thou art;
I gaze on thee, and sadness comes stealing o'er my heart.
My hands I fain had folded upon thy soft brown hair,
Praying that God may keep thee so lovely, pure and fair
“There is something about his words. The poetry...the words...are captivating,” Rebecca whispered, elating Eli by her enthusiastic approval.
“He is one of my favorites. He blends French modernism with German sentiment.” Eli turned the page to Heine's bibliography and read the line quoted at the top without so much as a waver in his voice.
“Where one burns books, one will, in the end, burn people.” Eli opened his mouth about to say something political, but before he could, Rebecca interrupted his thought.
“Read me some more of his poetry,” she asked like a child with a bedtime story. Gazing at her blue eyes that matched the sky, he turned the page to find another poem. “I really like this poet,” she said in her naïve age, never hearing of him before today and not fully comprehending the significance he had for Eli.
“He’s more than a mere poet. He’s a writer and political-religious thinker of Paris. Have you read him?”
Eli educated Rebecca as she shook her head no and then he spoke in audible softness.
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