It Happened All the Time
Kazimierz Czeslaw Cader, 1911-1912, Buczkowice
Daylight shatters through the thatches where a bird might fall,
two days since she boiled eggs, baked black bread, scrubbed potatoes,
the orbit of hands and feet circumferential to her mind’s rutted track,
drawn curtain, its window onto wind-ravaged fields where hay withers,
one breath at a time, questions circle like wolves down from the mountains
to haunt the tattered sheep’s pen, barn stalls overflowing with udders
untouched since morning. Not old enough to talk, the child, his snagged
breath in the blankets like wool in the coats his father wove
at the factory up the road by the bend in the river. Or should I say my grand-
father wove—the child, my uncle no one ever mentioned, because It
happened all the time, as people say now. Everyone was used to it.
Who could grieve really over an empty cradle when it would fill soon?
Hopefully with a boy to weave the cloth, patch the roof, ward off the beasts
who might come as wolves or in two years as Austrian soldiers,
in twenty-seven years as German soldiers, next as Russian soldiers, a boy
who didn’t live to say no, might not have lived through it all anyway.