The following is an excerpt from Here Lies by Oliva Clare Friedman, out now from Grove Press. Click here to purchase.
From before I began, I loved her. This was what I knew. Before the beginning, before I was born from her, before bones and blood and body, before egg.
My mother Naomi was dead and not buried. Dead in fact for half a year. Her body burned to ashes by the state, bones, heart, feet, eyes burned to dust, against her wish, against mine, and that was that. I was trying to understand.
I arrived in The Hague with a one-year contract at the Court and very little else. In those early days when the city was a stranger to me, I rode the tram without purpose and walked for hours at a time, so that I would sometimes become lost and need to consult the map on my phone. The Hague bore a family resemblance to the European cities in which I had spent long stretches of my life, and perhaps for this reason I was surprised by how easily and frequently I lost my bearings. In those moments, when the familiarity of the streets gave way to confusion, I would wonder if I could be more than a visitor here.