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I contact them to say I can’t disappear until I find my body. I don't want them to think I have given up on them or on myself. 


One day I will be seen. The world will know who I am. They will say we didn't want you to die without us seeing you. Now that we have seen you you can die in peace. Or maybe they will never see me and I will die a painful slow death having already lived a slow life in the darkness. Then they will no longer have to hear from me.


Possibly they never want to see me. It brings up too many bad memories and guilt to see my face.   


They gave me their private cell number. I knew never to call it. It would only make me feel indebted. It did make me feel honorable not to use it. I walked around with a pathetic smile even when I was flat. 


They saw me that one time in a private room that they used to entertain. I think they killed me in there. I was repeatedly stabbed by four handsome youths’ pocketknives. I said something about our country place.


They have mass grave sites in the mountains and the pine forest. I look for myself  in an unmarked grave. I've disinterred a thousand mass graves like mine but I haven't found mine so I can’t rest in peace.


They have hidden my grave. When I see ground that is unlike other ground I have a hunch that my grave is there. I use my hands and my face to move the sand and the dirt but it falls back in place as if nothing happened. 


All I wanted was for them to see me so that they could see that I never hated them. I went to see them to make them aware of our suffering. I was proud that they would see a nobody like myself. I thought that they would do something to help us. I didn’t think they were all bad. They were under pressure to survive as much as we were. 


Instead they hid my grave. 


Sometimes I can hear myself breathing underground. I can hear my heart beating a thousand beats per minute. The ground is flat and cold and doesn't reveal my body and I can't mourn.



P a u l u s   K a p t e y n

The War Crime Victim’s Ghost Looks for Its Grave




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Issue 78

Variations on Absence

edited by Laura M. Kaminski






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