The 2River View 25.3 (Spring 2021)

Ronda Piszk Broatch

The Ground Is Hard and my Shovel Dull

You ask, what is the color of history, and I can only reply
in broken wavelengths the color of suffering. Still,

I am moonstrong, held in a god-hand, fused and infused
with future. This is the word in darkness, millstone

of beginning. The circle of light above our heads is closer
than I realized, a petition, an escape hatch for which we

are rucksack ready. Grandfather, when did you step
from Jew into the I-never-knew of my childhood?

In moonlight, loam glows, though hundreds of years old.
To live, I dig. Bloody my fingers, store dna beneath my nails.

In moonlight years march into dimensions unheard of.
Now, I sleep with a wide window. Now, I keep open

a cell for the language of spit and bone to reconcile
their story, their perfect alibi.

And Somehow, We Arrived Here

Even the air is sallow   a sludge
of coal dust   and I breathe in
the weak heartbeat of it

I’m speaking to my dead
my homeless   reduced to luggage
bereft of the old furniture   the carpets

the dining table with its crystal
and spent linens   ghosted of siblings
who may or may not have traveled

to slightly more tolerant shores
I wander the ghetto streets
of Lodz   toward Jerozolimska 9

climb ghetto stairs   Beneath
a thin mattress   a precious piece
of stale bread   a bed down

on a few loose boards stretched
across a meager frame
Sometimes   I burn those boards

for heat   hands held to the flames
Sometimes   I pull darkness around me
like a coat I once owned

Ronda Piszk Broatch is the author of Lake of Fallen Constellations (MoonPath Press 2015). Her journal publications include Blackbird, The Journal, Missouri Review, Sycamore Review, and Public Radio KUOW’s All Things Considered.

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