menu

Two from Katarinaslav

Two from Katarinaslav August 8, 2011

They may never have heard the other’s name.

Ten years apart, the older combing her pigtails

out, the younger just learning how to braid them.

Maybe the younger saw the older laughing in the hay.

But both, as innocents, steamed their way to America

where there were more people than cows and more

streets than fields; where everyone spoke in strange,

quick clips. Both dreaming in their brick tenements

of the goat’s milk they were given just before dawn.

Both wondering where their goats were. Both missing

the quiet blue. How they learned about pavement and

phones. How they married. How they rolled English in

their mouths like little stones. How they never knew

that the other had children. How their children had

children who had no accent. All the while, the goats

sleeping in the back of their Russian dreams. And how

you, grandchild of the younger, should make your way

to Albany University, to sit in a class with me, grand-

child of the older. Even then, we never knew. And how

twenty years later, we should re-find each other. Until

a hundred years from that village, in a moment of

missing my grandma so, I speak of Katarinaslav, and

you are stopped. And oceans from the warm goat’s

milk their fathers pressed to their sleepy lips, you tell

me that your grandmother also had strong hands and

a powerful heart. That she also spent her last days in a

Brooklyn hospital. Could they have landed in the same

brick village near the end? Perhaps they had the same

nurse dab water on their swollen lips, which they

thought was warm milk. Perhaps they are now re-

lieved of the journey. And speak Russian and shake

their heads at how our love has finally brought them

together in a soft mirror of that Russian plain. It

took a hundred years but perhaps they sip goat’s

milk on the other side. Perhaps they eat

sponge cake in heaven.

"Mark, your remark about the chord from Tokyo puts me in mind of a similar ..."

For Keith Jarrett
"Thank you, Mark, for posting this incredibly beautiful and heartwarming poem. Blessings, Laraine"

The Work of Care
"That you suggest:"We need to return to our basic, caring nature now more than ever" ..."

Our Better Angels
"I just love this perspective on learning, reading and writing! Mark Nepo, you have such ..."

The Energy of Hope

Browse Our Archives