I Dream of Rhubarb Pies

Katarzyna Suchodolska
“The war is over,” my grandmother said the next day
After bombing had paused, but we knew she lied to us again,
With a soft smile on her face and fear in her eyes.
For the war can never be over, we already knew,
Despite our age: I was seven and Ryfka was nine;
We learned our lesson on the first day of school.
We sat on the porch the wet summer before school,
Watching insects fight for their fragile lives each day.
My grandmother would let us stay up late, even after nine,
And we discovered the world around us, again and again.
We let ourselves be surprised by each flower we knew
How to name; the world was borderless before our eyes.
The very first person killed in front of my eyes
Was dark, skinny Ryfka, my best friend from school.
My grandmother tried to hide her tears, but I knew
What happened, and I knew that one day
That blue-eyed soldier would come here again
And knock on our door; it did not matter that Ryfka was nine.
My grandmother made me a pie when I turned nine;
She must have sold her gold watch just to please my eyes
With a sugary rhubarb pie; for a moment I felt as if I was again
Careless and free to run to school
With a piece of warm pie, not thinking about landmines planted that day.
“Don’t worry, my child” said grandmother as if she already knew.
I never have doubted the secrets she knew,
Not even about cats’ lives, as many as nine.
She told me not to cry if suddenly one day
I didn’t find her at home; “You don’t need your eyes
To see me,” she whispered and kissed me goodbye; I ran fast to school.
I returned to a house filled with tears and lies, again.

If only I could go back there again,
To relive my life not knowing what I knew.
Eat rhubarb pie on the front porch before school,
And watch insects fight until past nine.
I’m tired, I feel that my eyes
Must close; enough stories for one day.

“Don’t worry, my child, I’ll see you again one day.
At school I was told that I have cat’s eyes
And I always knew that cats have more lives, as many as nine.”

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