Louisa Howerow
DP Camp, 1946

The day has been gray from the outset and by late afternoon the pewter sky sags under the weight of another storm. Everything around us -- the stone walls, the barracks, the cobbled courtyard, the air itself -- glistens from yesterday's rain and the rain from the day before.

The wet cold weeps into our bones, into our bellies. Our hunger grows; infants root for their mothers' breasts; children suck on thumbs and skirts. The men silently smoke their rationed cigarettes; they hold the smoke in their lungs, exhale slowly, careful not to appear too greedy.

Only the young soldiers who guard the doors to the mess hall seem dry and full. We turn away from their polished boots, pressed uniforms, cheeks scrubbed pink, wait for them to bark out the order; when they do, we shuffle into formation, heads bowed. The old go first.

A rumor is traveling to the back of the line; we press into each other. There will be meat bones in the soup today. What kind? Who cares? It's something.

Lightning flashes behind the clouds; thunder rends the air, once, twice, but the rain hangs suspended as if waiting for us to pass.

Behind me, Manya sways our infant to sleep, her lullaby warms the back of my neck. This too is something.