—for Olga and Zerline
I come here often. Today, the veil is thinner.
I’m the one stepping though, calling, O my Aunts –
but the path is washed out. The horizon line
follows the train track from Łódź to resettlement,
a new life. You’re told things will be better, food and work
but your bags have been taken, along with every
other promise. I tell the wind, hold them, O my Aunts,
speak in their ears while the breath of gas creeps
quietly. Placing my photograph next to yours I see
my eyes, my nose, or I will it so. I know what you couldn’t
know, where the tracks led, from Vienna to ghetto,
to the castle at Chełmno, behind which the hallway
to a shower, hot meal, was really a van, and final sleep.
Somewhere deep in my DNA I carry your hope, O my Aunts,
and to this day I wish for snow enough to cover
the tracks, and the ash. How spring follows, rising
through the cracked concrete. I have the letters
you gave me last night, felt your arms around me,
the heat and weight of which lingers. You tell me
there is yet a heartbeat after death, though the clocks
run slower. Maybe it’s Sunday, the table laden
with cakes, pears, grapes. I come here often,
your gaze reaching through the photograph,
binding me to you.
Ronda Piszk Broatch is the author of Lake of Fallen Constellations (MoonPath Press, 2015). Her journal publications include Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, and Public Radio KUOW’s All Things Considered, among others.