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Saturday, March 05, 2022


by Margaret Rozga

She was once her daughter’s age and that inscrutable. I was
once her age but already a widow. In Kyiv mothers
are brought near to tears, but who can cry, who can
anticipate having a daughter the age she now is?
Who has any room in her thoughts for anything more
than the backpack, the train station, the fear
of being separated, the maybe at the other side
of the border?
So fear takes a hiding place deep
in the chest but not as deep as the dream of a calm
and secure old age. Or deeper.
Here the three-year-old cries for a biscuit, begs
her to play. She sends the older brother to play
with the younger. Her daughter, my granddaughter
stays in the kitchen to listen
for the sound of dreams rising above worries
about prices. There is no war here,
no fear of bombs hitting this neighborhood. The war is
not that close to us. Not yet. The war weighs
on her mind even as she serves us fried fish and denies
biscuits. She worries about money in her non-war.
She cannot imagine. She can imagine.
This is how ghosts are born.
The succulent fish warms our bellies, relaxes
our conversation, shrinks the ghosts, makes room
for imagining a future for her family, my family,
hope for the Kyiv mother. Mothers.
Hope is what I, you, she
cling to when good is being bombed.
Margaret Rozga’s fifth book is Holding My Selves Together: New and Selected Poems (Cornerstone Press, 2021). As 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, she co-edited the anthology Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems (Art Night Books, 2020) and the chapbook anthology On the Front Lines / Behind the Lines (pitymilkpress, 2021). Twitter: WIPoet @RozgaMargaret