July 4, 2020

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach  

Dear L,

In my country

of motherhood,

it is never quiet.

My mother used to say,

We were afraid of quiet,

it always meant

you were up

to something.

In my 1920s rehabbed

Philly rowhome, fans hum

against July humidity

and central air refuses

to circulate. My husband’s

cough shakes up

from the unfinished

basement. In my country

of motherhood, Independence

is the kids seat-bound and chewing

goldfish and gummies for miles

as I push them and listen

to bad 80s Russian pop,

Rukhi Verx, blaring, Hands Up,

from my stroller, Ai Ai Ai

Devchonka, gde vzela

takie noshki, because at least

they’re hearing, Girl,

where’d you get such

legs, in my mother

tongue. In my country,

there is always

someone knocking

something over, the young

cat breaks every wine

or pint or water glass,

the dog trips over cords

of screens we hold too dear,

the baby reaches higher

than we thought her arm

could stretch and pulls

whatever shatters, and my son

gets out his safety scissors

and cuts and cuts

paper and scarves and pieces

of puzzle and Lego until

it grows too quiet, and like

my mother, I know exactly

what that means. They can’t

help themselves, L.

There is no one

to blame here.

But there is

me, still and always

here. So, in my country,

I keep on helplessly

blaming myself.


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