A Ukrainian Pioneer's First Winter
She dreamed in colour: wheat fields golden
under a sky so blue and endless she felt
it lapping at the shores of eternity, kissing
the lids of her still-closed eyes.
She didn't speak the language well. It still felt strange on her tongue.
Alien as a new handle on an old shovel. But she was learning.
Sometimes she caught herself thinking in English.
It was only when the summer fled and the autumn faded; when
the snows fell thick and deep and the world rested under
a blanket of its own hydrological weaving that the words she practiced -- softly
speaking them to herself -- emerged from her superior temporal gyrus while she slept.
For the first time her dreams were as snow-white and sky-black as the world outside.
She dreamed in black and white: birch bark visions of
scattered stars in the interminable firmament, winking
and curious. The milky way, a salt traders road beyond her reach.
Campfires a horizon line away. Moonlight.
Snow under the black.
But her shovel handle was worn in the places she had gripped it
during uncountable Ukrainian winters weathered. Her tongue still formed
old world words without a second thought. And when she dreamed in the language
of her grandmother, the colours of the land she left blossomed anew like the smoke
from her morning cook-fire, curling into the pale new-sewn sky.
Jack Rossiter-Munley is a freelance writer, editor, and podcast producer based in New York City. He is the producer and technical director for Poetry Spoken Here; the co-host of Close Talking, a poetry analysis podcast, and Party Bard, a Shakespeare podcast; and the host of the New Books in National Security podcast. He is also editor-in-chief of trolltennis.com.
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