A nightingale wings its way in, says, Fly, carries me to the grandmother of my grandmother. My hand lies in hers, placid and cool. We soar over the town, its streets filled with dirt and leftover rain. Buildings shiver in wind from the Baltic sea. Look. You come from this place. Its sky arched and silvery, crowded with clouds, the sun traipsing toward a horizon littered with bodies. The grandmother of my grandmother strokes my hair, calls me shayna maidel; tells me the men leave, the women suffer. Feel my hand, bruised, skin torn, palm worn by carrying too much…Her daughter will be Nehama, whose daughter, Ida, will become my grandmother. They will flee this unwelcome land. She will die in its cold embrace. I am her dream burrowed in my body.
Valerie Bacharach’s writing has appeared or will appear in journals including: Whale Road Review, The Blue Mountain Review, EcoTheo Review, On the Seawall, Minyan Magazine, One Art, and Writer’s Foundry Review. Her chapbook, Ghost-Mother, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.