Dreaming Ciechanowiec

Amy Small-McKinney

The Synagogue of Ciechanowiec… It is an empty building…
The mole on the skin—
I remember watching the shoulder
above me slant toward the sun.
It is best to remember only parts of the sum—
sweat spilling off of a body,
a black smith awl searing into skin.

In my skin, you rise
and in my dreams
you demand:

Today is no different. 
Today is not another day.

the branch that fell
from the maple
is dragged
with indifference.
I do not turn once
to watch them haul
the stricken limb away.

I turn twice.
He carries me over
his shoulder.
The others—his mother,
her mother, the mother before—
follow us into the driveway,
into the green Chevrolet,
into our day as we planned it.

Night riddle:
Where are the lovers, sisters, brothers, neighbors?

Listening for Schönberg,
his Survivors from Warsaw,
before he composed it.

Choose.  Choose.
Remember us.

It is too late to choose.
My life is being led
as I dream you,
it will end
soon enough.
My father is dead.
He died a year ago
from modern disease.
The slap, the stare,
the fist raised above
with a hunter’s grief
are gone.

Black bib of memory, comfort of dreams,
smooth scent, sound—the lace collar against a chin—
how she dressed when she wasn’t dressing
horses with poultice for thrush, gashes.   

This is her horse,
its shoe perfect against its pad,
black eyes beneath brown fringe:

You are not who you are supposed to be.

 “You are right.”


Ciechanowiec : The Bialystok District of Poland