History

Here I am,
Waiting for my scars to fade.

When war swept the country
in the Russian invasions
my people were terrified.
Cold, steel and fear,
bodies packed like meat
carted to their graves.
Trains across the length of continent,
and cold, such cold.
Blue fingers and toes
blue, red, steel and fear
sharp iron in nostrils
deep, hard lines in faces
packed with dirt, blood and salt.

My grandfather said he had a magic umbrella.
At the dinner table on Christmas Eve,
piled with fish and I kept my
eyes away from him
for fear of seeing what was inside.
My 9-year-old ears started listening
between slurs and curses he spewed,
he told of his magic umbrella.
When he had it
no bombs fell on his head.
And my 9-year-old brain
pictured a world torn by war
where death was a constant
and umbrellas were the only hope.

They told us of freedom fighters
“Partizanai”.
Showed us photos of handsome young men
dressed in green military suits.
Romantic, youthful rebellion.
Hiding under the ground
Waiting to strike
their only hope –
the element of surprise.
A blade of grass
standing against a war tank.
Delicate creature
and cold, hard, steel.

They cut down the trees in our country.
The trauma gapes open the land
in empty pastures, charred country houses.
Delicate birches
peek out of the soil, young and fresh.
But pain sits,
pain lingers
in grandfathers, mothers, survivors, ancestors.
Panic is passed down
over tables piled with fish.
They never knew how to be
another way.
The quiet resentment
in the statues on the bridge,
woman with a cold, steel face
deep, hard lines
packed with dirt, soot of decades.
Always standing
a bushel of wheat under one arm,
In her hand
A scythe.
A constant reminder,
we can never leave it behind.

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