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Sunday, March 26, 2006


by Rochelle Ratner

The salt, perhaps, acted as a preservative, much as it does
in third-world countries with no refrigeration. But this is
New York City, circa 1962, the middle of the Cuban Missile
crisis. Children crouch under small metal desks with empty
inkwells, arms clasped over bent heads. There are air raid
drills in high-rise office buildings where adults quietly file
into long, windowless corridors. Laos is the most recent
country to gain independence, Sputnik's still fresh in
everyone's mind, water puts out fire, every five-year-old in
America presumably knows how to swim. The Brooklyn
Bridge dangles at least a hundred feet above the river,
while fresh water, bandages, paper blankets, and 352,000
Saltines are sealed in its base. What's amazing is the
pigeons didn't get them.

Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: