The Murdered Grandmother I’m Named After
In sepia tones I dreamt
a balsamic moon cradling
an incandescent star.
I have always been told
you were impermeable
but the sole photo reveals
no edge, only a steady gaze.
Smothering wasn’t your style.
Nor is it mine. I carry
your name, genetic
substance and hooded eyes
that hide how much I see
when I look your way.
I am heading toward your ending,
but not to worry: mine will be nothing
like yours. How easy these days
to mount a metal bird and take flight.
You left nothing except
that which could be examined
stained under a strong microscope.
I am no scientist. I wish you had drawn
a portfolio of dress designs, written
a repository of family lore, left
instructions on how to get
a green card without guilt.
Soon, I will suffocate
under the unbearable
weight of spring,
its requisite good cheer.
I was born during
that same dark phase I dreamt.
I wish the past was dead;
it keeps fermenting into
a crepuscular brew I can’t resist.
At twilight, I’ll spiral out along
the backdrop to the only picture
of you I’ve ever seen. We’ll sojourn
in that space between the mirror
and its silver lining, between
your eyes and mine.
Chasing the Light
after César Vallejo
Though I would love to die
at twilight – diffused hibiscus light
refracted from the brick soil below,
birdsong praising the temporal threshold,
when we are neither in one world,
nor the other – I suspect this body
will finally give out during a balsamic
moon, much like the world I was born into –
dark as a Pharaoh’s plague,
or perhaps his gold-laden tomb,
– that familiar darkness –
inside my mother’s coral walls,
medicated to assure we would both
be in our right minds. When I emerged
from the red sea of her womb, just
a sliver of light hung in the horizon.
Might as well turn back in, I imagine
I mused, explaining a lifetime of day
dreams, imagined pursuits. But for
the sleeplessness that has chased me
since youth, I might believe I could gently
expire fixed at the remnants of the sun,
remembering good I have known and done.
Insomnia, you might have played me
wrong, but you will eventually win:
I will die long past midnight, gazing
at the stars, praying that they guide me,
as I close my eyes one last time,
searching for the light
in the only place it has ever lived.
Yael Flusberg is the author of the chapbook The Last of My Village (Poetica Press, 2010), and leads Pen & Pose, a workshop series combining poetry and yoga, at writing festivals, public libraries, universities, hospices, community gardens, and yoga studios. Flusberg is the child of Holocaust survivors, and her interest in epigenetics has led her to explore multiple creative and integrative healing modalities. Her website: yaelflusberg.com/ To read more by this author: "Optical Illusions," Mapping the City Issue, Vol. 11:4, Fall 2010; "When Columbia Road Didn't Pass Me Over,", Split This Rock Issue, Vol. 9:1, Winter 2008; and "Relocated Boulders Bless the Grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian," The Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006.