Bridge Built of War Films
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Near the end, my dziadek started taking unannounced walks. As I knew him, he enjoyed staying at home through the evening, watching World War II documentaries on the television, but as he started to go, the outdoors pulled at him. There was a last seed in him that, despite not fully knowing what was happening to him or often where he was, would know he should enjoy the cool spring weather and breathe the salty air around the graduation towers. Maybe it knew that he should try to escape, like old dogs that run away to find the right place to die. Eventually, a few weeks after he forgot who his wife was, that self-preserving last thing decided to save him a few months of suffering. It was sudden and then it was more sudden, and it was over.

I heard the news from my mom, on an international call. Her voice was shaky and breaking up, like an old tree after a hurricane; she'd been there for the worst of it. I was removed; I felt almost as if he hadn't died at all. The funeral happened four thousand miles away from me, happening just as suddenly. My thoughts wandered only to friends and family who'd passed before. As for my grandfather, it was an axiom that he was still feeding stray cats out of his garaż in West Poland and watching the BBC.

A couple weeks after the funeral, I learned that another dear friend of mine had died in a bike accident. Nothing bad happens alone; everything happens at once, in radio bursts between seas of silence. I spent the next few days irritable and aggressive, selfishly taken by my own temporality. It took the second death for me to recognize the first. I think it will take a third death for me to recognize the second, so that death will be a door I'm always opening.

I don't remember it all, but it culminated in a dream, and there are images that last. Grandpa is playing aggressively with a dog that adores him. A bright morning sun floods the subway car at 4th Ave-9th St station. I'm playing for my family a soft melody that, upon awaking, would eventually become the first thing I record in months. My dearest friend sends me a postcard from Vermont. Behind a gas station, a group of kids smoke and laugh, only feet away from an old bridge to nowhere hidden in the trees. I have a great view now over the Wisła, with golden grass on its banks and deep oceanic water coursing through its center, and over that aortic river, there is a bridge being built from the gray frames of old war films.

(Here's what I recorded.)

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