Inside Our Womb of Danger
            After Yehuda Amichai

In our basement, a walk-in closet
spacious enough for all of us, shelves-to-ceiling
provisions: peas, sauerkraut, dried milk. Bomb shelter and cupboard

never used except to grab an extra can while mother
cooked, or a condiment, say, for a lamb dinner
in our kitchen where father slammed the table

as though a kettle drum when one of us
refused to eat. He had known such hunger.

The meat I hated rested
inside my cheek until I could excuse myself,
wrap it like a baby bird in tissues.

Yes, I see those children. Ribs fractured,
bodies exploded, emptied
and filling the air with entrails and grief.

Mothers and fathers begging for their release
from hunger, from pain, from death.
No metaphor contains this grief.

When both my parents were weak with marauding cancer,
a band of seniors delivered dinners. They ate after not eating all day,
unless I paid an early visit.

Today, I learn a cousin was murdered in the war,
while in the streets, marchers screech extinction.

Once, I found them facing each other
in a hospital-paid-for-hotel room before my mother’s next day surgery.
Weeping. Unanswered calls to agents of insurance.

That night, I plowed through landings of snow on a nearly empty highway
to get to them, to find them, mirror images of each other, two children listening
for the monster, trapped in a blank room.

But I could bring them home, at least.

Note: We made ourselves a womb of dangers, from Yehuda Amichai, I Don’t Know If





Amy Small-McKinney was the 2011 Montgomery County PA Poet Laureate. Her second full-length book, Walking Toward Cranes, won the Kithara Book Prize (Glass Lyre). Her chapbook, One Day I Am A Field, was written during COVID and her husband’s death (Glass Lyre). About One Day I Am A Field, Alicia Ostriker said, “This is a gorgeous book. This is what poetry can do. This is why we need poetry.” Her poems have appeared in various publications, including American Poetry Review, Baltimore Review, Literary Mama, Vox Populi, and Verse Daily, among others, and have been translated into Korean and Romanian.

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