by Alinda Dickinson Wasner

she said she always
soaked the bulbs
in Betadine douche
it was the only way
to force them open
on that fourth floor terrace
where green things
found a toe hold in the concrete
never mind that corn doesn’t usually
grow in a barrel
or mustard on a balcony
it was, plain and simply,
the idea of needing an oasis
in the desert
a means of finding the moon
in the afternoon sky
pale enough to give you the shivers
when the temperature
was well over a hundred;
at age forty
she was a mere wisp
of what she had been at fourteen
before the war
some said
like Medea she would have
destroyed even her
own children
except that she couldn’t really
when it came right down to it
couldn’t find
the courage to do anything other
than hide them under her skirt
when the time came
she even hung
rain chimes
from the antenna
to distract the enemy
and they did come
only a few survivors were lucky enough
to get over the wall
and run
they never knew
how she lifted her skirt
at just the right angle
sat the oldest girl on her knee
to make her look
too young for them
but they just laughed at her
while the others ran and ran
and later, we ran, too
until the field
flew into our eyes
the past turned to dust
and with time even the mirrors
so that even to ourselves
we became
mostly invisible.

Featured in

Copyright 2010 Alinda Dickinson Wasner. All rights reserved.