John Sozanski


reach through the layers of memory
to a land distant and close
stroll a muddy path
by a pile of utility poles
and a tilted wooden shed
feeling stings of nettles on bare feet
walk along the sweet flag bordered stream
to reach the treasure hill
of the factory's bakelite dump

back to our street
where a smiling boy
is beating a live rabbit
out of its fur
neighbors are pointing at me
this Jew did not pass
the Holy Communion exam
he did not know
the last name of our provost

most kids are eating weeds
some bite on wet slices
of old brown bread
dipped in sugar
or thinly spread
with commercial frying fat
best with coarse-grain salt

sudden rackety noise of iron clad wheels
and clacking shots of horseshoes
on the cobblestone street
next to the boarded synagogue doors
people are rushing behind horse wagon
delivering bread to an empty grocery store

dark haired little Abramek
his big-nosed head down
is sneaking along the wall
he does not believe in Jesus Christ
but in lies

happy long trip with Monika
to the old cholera cemetery
crossing together the center square
beside the stucco baroque church
passing tall weeds at the town's edge
throwing thistle buds in her golden hair

back at home
finding a safe haven in the underground
corridors dug in our backyard garden
then an expedition to the basement
carelessly splashing stagnant water
until stumbling on a dead rat


in Warsaw I am standing with Stan
by the tennis courts
next to a large abandoned lot
overgrown with high grass
that is why I am missing Poland I say
my Main Line neighbors think I am joking
when I tell them I love the weeds

Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Edited: Friday, September 26, 2014

Topic of this poem: childhood

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