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Tuesday, March 01, 2022


by Catherine Gonick

Wojciech Kossak "Cossack on Horseback", 1918, watercolour on paper, 24 x 14.5 cm

My Cossacks just left, taking with them
everything they could carry.
As usual, my books, notebooks,
my rubber crutch. I can’t even climb
the walls. But deep in my closet,
a locust swarm gathers. I ride it
back to the desert, scan for signs,
a dung-beetle track, ripple of sand,
to find an oasis of laughing doves.
Scribbling again has meaning, yet certain
as ink on paper, as bullies’ lies
on social media, these scimitared
thugs will return. In a garden
of sunflowers outside Odessa, my aunt
fell in love with one of the Cossacks
on horseback passing her house.
She was only a child, but her story
reminds me not to be fooled
if now and then, they are handsome.
A pogrom against words is still a pogrom.

Catherine Gonick’s poetry has appeared in publications including Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Forge, and Sukoon, and in anthologies including in plein air, Grabbed, and Dead of Winter 2021.  She is part of a company that fights  global warming through climate repair and restoration projects around the world. Pogroms early in the last century drove her grandparents and their first two children from Odessa to California, where her aunt painted sunflowers and worked in the San Francisco Public Library, and her uncle was a leader in the Longshoremen's Strike of 1933 and a lifelong activist.