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The Last Time I Saw My Mother

Helen Bajorek McDonald


I was twelve years old

So much we'd been through:

hard but happy times

on a patch of peasant farm

milk warm from her breasts

Bread worked by steadfast hands

Sunday clothes stitched with pure love

As tailored elegance for a prince

A night you'd wish never to meet

Hellish barking of foreign tongues

Ugly glittering bayonets

her hushed murmurings I'd come to hear

more than see food

don't cry my little princess

some day the nightmare will end

some day we'll be free

sold her wedding ring, gold

alchemized for food for her only child

what a mother will do:

the train stopped at a small station

on our way out

near Krasnovodsk

she got off with some women

a whole bunch on a mission

just a little bit of bread

or grapes

or anything we could eat

and it started; pulled away


the last time I saw her

running toward the moving train

a frantic figure at the station

arms outstretched

with her bread offering

full eyes of tears

a blurred ghost all I can see

the last memory

of my mother


Back to the January 2001 issue
The Sarmatian Review
Last updated January 2001.