Robert Bohm


Like petroleum, that dark.  She remembered how
she stumbled toward it, not telling
the uncles in the Gdansk shipyard later.  Soft as
an undercooked pirogue’s belly, her fat
eyelid was what she carried there, holding back
her tears.  Barely able to stand the crocus’s
violent breaking of the dirt, she wasn’t made
for survival.  Still, she knew how to wield
the iron frying pan if she had to, which
she did once, although the soldier whose head
she fractured was just a boy and not worth it, in spite
of having his dick out.  But on this day 
when she saw the Holy Mother’s black face, a Baltic Sea
in which the seal raids a net for food, and felt
death’s nearness, something
of moment was at stake.  The Hussite’s saber slice
on the icon’s cheek opened up, a mountain gorge
into which no child should ever stray, and as the wind
howled inside it she knew that weeping
in front of the black face set her free.  Then
it hit her:  she wanted
someone like St. Luke for a lover.  Transgressing
for the first time against her faith, she wondered
if he’d fucked the Holy Mother before
painting her and in this way had made
the drained peasant woman bloom.  Henka never
hid after that, but created a life
out of taking risks, sometimes eating
cold cabbage rolls in the birdshriek forest
not far from where
Rosa the Jewess once met with saboteurs. 


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