If things hadn’t changed so swiftly,
you’d’ve been swaddled on a train
and then a ship that rocked
and cooed and sighed and laughed
into a city where I’d be waiting
in a pram, just a few years
before we’d both enter
the same kindergarten.
But that was not to happen.
And I learned only later
when I could understand language
about the frozen toes
and butcher shop glass,
confiscated ski bindings
yellow badges and Terezin,
pretty pictures all in a row,
happy songs, and funny plays
for a gullible Red Cross.
The cast of characters
(and understudies who would
get their chance) was typed on layers
of onion skin and carbon paper,
sometimes with the shift key slightly soft,
in lists of thousands of names,
on a train, no ship, no swaddling clothes,
just the scratching rat-sound of motherless.
Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry, her most recent being The Eyes Have It, published by Turning Point Books in March 2018. Her fourth chapbook, The Last Gun, was published in 2016. An excerpt from it won the COG Poetry Award, judged by A. Van Jordan, and was subsequently animated (www.cogzine.com/watch). Harding Woodworth lives in Washington D.C., where she is co-chair of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Copyright 2018, Anne Harding Woodworth