by Ariadne Clifton
Each morning on his way to work,
my grandfather walks along the southern bank
of the Danube river. Today on the far side he sees
the red hammer and sickle of the Soviet army
as it gathers to cross our bridge.
We must immediately
My mother, my aunt and my grandmother
rush about packing essentials,
crying, praying. The house smells
of newly washed linens, of the freshly baked bread just delivered
for breakfast. The china on the table is not yet cleared.
Some silver spoons are packed into a suitcase
for future barter. The clock chimes in its regular fashion
as though there is nothing unusual this day.
The cupboard doors senselessly open and close
with no change to their interiors. The sunlight angles
through the leaves creating patterns on the tablecloth.
Which coat? Which shoes?
While the old grey and white cat, Masha, frightened
by such commotion, runs corner to corner,
about to be abandoned
Ariadne Clifton explores and tells her personal story through her poetry. She was born in Yugoslavia to Russian parents, who were forced to flee their country during the 1917 Revolution. At the time of the Second World War, her family once again fled the communists in Yugoslavia. She spent the first six years of her life in refugee camps with her grandparents. The Russian language and the mysticism of her Russian Orthodox faith hold her fast to her family, her heritage, and their losses.
Cover texture by Ava Verino (Flikr) [CC by 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.