In the photograph by Engelman, the Old World
is evident: Vienna, 1938:
the velvet-covered chair and Persian rug,
the famous couch with cushions. And the tiny,
tiny mirror in the window that faced the trees…
as if he needed reassurance for survival, when he
listened? Gored by the climacteric of the age, evil
passed over every silence. And you can see it,
still: the swastika scrawled above his doorway
just outside the camera’s frame. Here the man
became his best obsessions; he lived and fled.
A year from now, he will be dead. His artifacts
and family gone to Maresfield Gardens, his sisters
—Dolfi, Mitzi, Rosa, Pauli—destined for the camps. Not
much remains. What is a life but its runes in absence?
9, Berggasse 19, Vienna