Ronda Piszk Broatch: “Mostly you wore linen, set about vases of lilies”


in the old Vienna apartment. And what were you
afraid of in those days, the rain spilling down
outside the window, your student who did

or did not practice during the week, fidgeting
at the upright piano. What lifted you in those years
after the First World War, life gradually leaking back

to normal, one of you going to work as a stenographer,
both of you unmarried, sunny afternoons walking
the Ring Road, perhaps a concert in the garden

of Schönbrunn Palace, your low-heeled shoes and fox
fur draping your shoulders, caught in a photograph
by your brother, the one who would leave Austria

and never return, the letters you stopped sending
in 1941. What did you choose amidst the dark-carved
furniture, the artwork—what coats, what sheets

of music, what pen and scraps of paper, what bags?
Mostly I return to this, you at table. You, laughing,
and you, awake and warning me.

Ronda Piszk Broatch is the author of Chaos Theory for Beginners (MoonPath Press, 2023) and Lake of Fallen Constellations (MoonPath Press). She is the recipient of an Artist Trust GAP Grant. Broatch’s journal publications include Greensboro Review, Blackbird, 2River, Sycamore Review, Missouri Review, Palette Poetry, and NPR News / KUOW’s All Things Considered. She is a graduate student working toward her MFA at Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop.

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