The hope a mooncalf follows
is sacrifice for slaughter,
and yet the wings of swallows
still skip across the water. 

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The Last Silesian

Above us: cawing rooks and grey clouds.
Around us: leafless trees and falling snow.
It’s late in January, 60 years
since Gleiwitz-Petersdorf was “liberated.”

Anne, a frail and tiny woman of eighty,
and the last Silesian on our street,
points her left hand toward the frozen ground
and rests her right upon a walking stick.

—“When Stalin’s army came, the NKVD
tortured, raped and massacred our people.
Both of my parents were among the dead
buried here inside a mass grave.”—

In her sad voice there are hints of dialect.
—“Later on, Poles from the East exhumed them,
planted trees, and built this lovely park.”—
The dialect of the dead, and the vanquished.

first published in Chronicles, 2005

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© by Leo Yankevich