Fiction | June 01, 1984

The full text of this story is not currently available online.

All of us, whether or not we descend from noble lineages, have our genealogies. I am descented from Genesis, not out of pride, but out of necessity.  My parents were born in a Jewish Ukraine, very different from the Ukraine of today, more different yet from the Mexico where I was born, this Mexico, Federal District, where I had the luck to come into the world amid the cries of the merchants at the Merced market, those merchants whom my mother, dressed in white from head to foot, used to stand watching in amazement.

I can’t be accused, like Isaac Babel, of flowery writing or bookishness, since unlike him (or my father) I didn’t study Hebrew or the Bible or the Talmud (because I wasn’t born in Russia and I’m not male).  Like Joan of Arc I hear voices, but I am not a maid and I have no desire to be burnt at the stake, although I am attracted by the gaudy and beautiful colors that Shklovski condemned Babel for when they were not yet old men, and that he remembers nostalgically now that he is one (that is to say, Shklovski remembers, because Babel died in a concentration camp in Siberia, 14 March 1941).

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.