Tuesday, 14 April 2020

My Mother Remembers Her Mother Praying

by Mary Rohrer-Dann

Once, she followed her mother out to the barn
found her kneeling in prickly straw, forehead
pressed against the cow’s coarse hide, voice
muffled in the space between rib and flank.

Her mother’s words a private litany of petition,
praise—and something else—something dangerous.

By then, her older brothers were taken
for Hitler’s madness. Her older sisters scavenged
cratered fields for radishes, turnips, potatoes.

With her younger brother, who would soon to be sent
to the Russian front, she searched the ravaged henhouse
for eggs missed by starving soldiers who picked
the orchard bare, then burned it to stumps.

One afternoon, her father stood blindfolded
between the stone barn and black mouths of rifles.
Inexplicably, the rifles were lowered.

She remembers her mother in the barn, dust
motes haloing her in light. She remembers
the thick smell of manure, milk, animal heat,
the pulse of her mother holding her God to account.

* * * * *

Mary Rohrer-Dann is a writer, painter, and educator in central PA. Recent work has appeared in Literary Yard, Evening Street Press, The Drabble, Vita Brevis, Flashes of Brilliance, Literary Heist, San Antonia Review (forthcoming) and Biscuit Root Drive (forthcoming). Two poem projects, La ScaffettaPoems from the Foundling Drawer, and Accidents of Being, were staged and  produced by Tempest Productions, Inc.

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