BY CATHERINE POND
The day your brother dies I undress bury the clothes I’m wearing in the trash. A long-sleeve striped shirt and a pair of jeans. It’s October. I don’t know how you feel, what you throw out. The lake falls back into itself like a first draft. * You start sleeping on the floor. When I spend the night I join you, the two of us cocooned in comforters. All night I listen for your breath from beneath the blue-grey chrysalis. * At home, my mom starts reading to me in the evening again. She has a clear voice, like water. I’m getting too old for it, but each night she leaves a space for me in bed beside her. * Time behaves strangely, moving forward and away. Magnolias bloom like ink-blots in the yard. Drought turns the weeping willow yellow in the wind. * Somewhere what you love is still alive turning cartwheels in a gentle snow is the kind of lie I write years later, wishing I could make it true for you. * Winter sister. Seventeen years of sleeping on floors. We live so far apart but I still wake searching for your shape in the dark. You still call me in your quiet voice, waiting and waiting for what won’t come home.
BY CATHERINE POND
October 31st, Lutzschena. The sky looks like snowfall but nothing comes. In our host family there are three daughters: Johanna, Maja, and Greta. Beyond the castle is a park, and in the park a river. We step over a basket of apples to get to the bikes. We pedal past Auwald Station under black alder, bird cherry, ash. We pedal past the pond, the statue of Diana. Horses scooping the air with soft noses. I grew up in a house near a horse farm. Rain polished the days into perfect puddles, but when I looked too closely at my reflection, there was always something about to break. Now night falls, translucent as water. When I blink, my eyelashes clarify the darkness, like the rubber wipers in a car-wash. Love isn’t lupine, those divided leaves which die in winter. It isn’t purple or ash-pink. It’s telescope glass: you can see across to the other side. Saxony, where the farmers make wooden figurines in winter when the fields are frozen and the Earth gives nothing back. Each figurine holds a wooden flower. Know that whenever a force is exerted from outside, there is also a force being exerted from within, which amplifies the pressure. I don’t know where the original owners of the castle went during the war. The photos stop at 1938. In the Jewish Museum, the photo that pains me most is the pile of eyeglasses. When the Soviets took over, the castle went into disrepair. Birch trees grew up out of the floor, rain made little mountain streams down the marble staircase. In the morning: mist, steam, rain. Rain ribboning over the brown earth. Rain slack-jawed against the windows. Steam on the inside pane of the shower where I write my name. Maja is the youngest. At breakfast she sits next to me and speaks rapid-fire. When I ask her mother to translate, she shrugs, explains: She is speaking her own language. Later, by the tree-house, I draw shapes in water with a thin branch, and think of the summer we didn’t speak. The warm space in bed where your body was. I bend the stick in my hand. Nothing ever really breaks, though force can cause a flexible object to deform.