Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Marjorie Deiter Keyishian: Traders

Women weeded, they hoed. Sweat, the river that ran
between their breasts, poisoned their milk. Such hot sun—
such long days—making room for rye in stony
fields. Their infants left behind perished,
though their grandmothers softened the flat
cakes of rye they warmed for supper with water.

The lovely Maritza’s husband was shot down
for his watch by a friend who called for him
at midday—and, ever after, the family waited,
paying for news of him. She had five small
mouths open round her table. In spring,
she climbed the hard hills to sparse Turkish
villages to bring candy, to bring thread. Once
a Singer sewing machine went over
the pebbled roads. The donkey groaned. She,
alone, loaded that donkey and went herself
two times each year, to the Turkish village
to bring bright threads; tawny, raspberry,
and blue. Bent over looms they set up themselves,
villages of young women wove themselves
into fantastic beasts and birds, gardens
that keep alive their hungry children
no one but they are left to feed.

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