Occupation: A Poem

When they came, they took the house. They let me and my sisters live in the basement. My father died of hunger. (Sasha, 1942)

Steps, forced thunder
dust upon my head
Anything not to ask for bread.

Voices upon the table
words eating words
mouthfuls over mother's iron skillet

wake to fog—creamy cataract of sky
descended thinly. Cheeks sunken paper napkins
becoming apparition.

stuff them with garbage
with air, dream of sucking cherries
diffusion of color,

sunrise provisions:
enough light to open—the iris
feels no difference

Closed against sky, I see variations
speckling of life racing through
ice thin tissue—your blood, mine.

Dust—could be summer, remains
upon our heads. I speak
to myself—to you. echo.

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