Christine Herzer



i wanted to be yellow

i remember sister getting lost in supermarkets, clothes stores and on vacation
and that it scared me a lot

i remember thinking how much i admired sister and that when i had been her age
i wouldn’t have had the courage to get lost

i remember throwing away the sandwiches mother made. sometimes i forgot,
and mother would find them in my schoolbag, hard like stones

i remember being very ugly, it had to do with my face. father said Wash it with

i remember swinging on the swing outside. the swing was red and i was unafraid

i remember playing with sister, we were both pirates, the swing was our ship, we
sailed far away and high up, we were not allowed to touch the grass, the grass
was green, we never got caught. sister followed my orders, i was the captain

i remember being a good captain and that sister admired me and that i loved


Growing up in the German countryside, close to a large US airbase, our neighbor
kids Susie & Mark often ate peanut-butter sandwiches (always with strawberry
jam) – the sandwiches looked gigantic and tasted delicious. Back then, German
supermarkets didn’t carry the ‘right’ toast [too small, too thin]. This didn’t
bother me. I had no wish to re-create the experience. The experience didn’t belong
inside our house. The experience belonged outside. What I responded to most
was the color-combination: beige on eggwhite; the mix of textures: liquidy jam
meeting gluey peanut butter; how pliable and receptive the bread was – it felt
obscene. Obscene is not a word I knew then. Submissive is not a word I
associate with food. The sandwich was bigger than our hands, holding it felt like
holding something forbidden and very precious. Bird. Bird Pressing the wings
together would result in the bleeding/running of strawberry jam across the
borders, the jam reached our fingernails.


I remember feeling
uncomfortable when
Sandy Cohen
, Peter
Gallagher’s character
on “The O.C.”, an
American Teen
Drama Television
series that ended after
four seasons,
explained to his
neighbor played by
Tate Donovan that
‘providing’ for one’s
family had nothing to
do with money. His
statement left a
permanent stain on
my brain. Television
leaves permanent
stains on the brain.

As a teenager, on a
Sunday afternoon, I
watched a series on
German Television.
Voices explained how
babies are made and
where they live. I
hadn’t asked for this
information. I didn’t
want it and I didn’t
know what to do with
it or how to give it
back. I would have
liked to return the
information. The
information could not
be returned

Containing the
information did
something to my
eyes. I don’t think
anyone noticed. Eyes
are mysterious. Eyes
survive information.
When I was 14, I
watched TV late at
night, I was alone, my
grandmother had died
the year before. My
grandmother and I
used to watch
Television together,
the Eurovision Song
Contest, for example.
I found the documentary by
chance, the images
were in black and
white, bodies, what
looked like bodies,
soft bodies, empty
bodies, bodies
resistance, many
bodies, piled up,
piles of bodies, what
looked like bodies, it
didn’t make sense at
first, and then it
started making sense,
a voice explained the
images using
The voice used the
word ‘freeing’, and the
word ‘camps’,
‘concentration camps’.
I remember thinking
that my aunt had it all
wrong and that I
wouldn’t be able to
talk about this. I knew
I was watching
something important,
important in a much
larger sense, I kept
watching and while I
kept watching I felt a
stain on my brain, it
didn’t feel like a new
stain, it felt like a long
stain, long-lasting,
a forever-stain, it felt


in the sense of how
feels among friends
when the lights go
Things are possible in
the dark.
Belonging is a matter
of light.
Some things only
happen in the dark.I didn’t resist the stain,
I didn’t resent it either.
My brain was growing
up. My brain was
growing, not in an
ugly, out of control-noisy-insanity-way,
my face didn’t change
for example, the
growth was invisible
and could not be
resisted. I did not
When I think back to
that night I see wires,
transparent wires, I
was plugged in,
plugged into
something bigger, the
wires weren’t
more the opposite of
an obstacle.
Education is
the opposite of an
Television can be
both education and
obstacle. Love is not
so different from
Television. I’m not
stupid. Love is very
different from
I know that much.
Love colors
everything. Love has
no switch-off button.
Love is like a
MacBook Pro. Love
goes to sleep.
I’ve put love to sleep
many times
.(Poets don’t log out)I watched “The O.C.”
on DVD. Sandy
Cohen does pro bono
work and is married to
super rich and
beautiful Kirsten
Cohen. Tim Donovan
is rich too. He used to
date Kirsten before
she married
penniless Sandy.
I remember asking
myself what Sandy
could have meant
when he talked about
the relationship
between money,
family and how he
saw his role; his role
as a father, as a
husband and as a
provider for the family.
Sandy didn’t earn
money, Sandy spent
his wife’s money and
yet Sandy provided, I
understood this.
I tried to come up with
examples for
‘providing’ without
money in it, providing
things that did not
necessitate money.
I never questioned
why Kirsten fell for
Sandy, if Sandy
deserved Kirsten, if
Kirsten deserved
Sandy. As far as I was
concerned they had
love. They talked.
They were warm

Image credit: Christine Herzer, Language Room, 2016

Christine Herzer is a visual artist, poet and teacher. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, art reviews, and online publications

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