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Eve Rosenbaum
The Splintering

The Splintering

We will have the same dreams
I will be in the garden pulling
tomatoes and rosehips, throwing

them to you to basket and carry
away, you will read to me Hungarian
love poems and newspapers

we will have the same dreams
new dresses and tea at the cafe
on the boulevard, laughing until

swatches of yellow are sewn across our
mouths and we bleed instead of speak

And there is the corner where the bed
is pushed aside to allow for the scraping
of wood floor panels by bloody finger tips

pulled away to reveal a crawl space not
big enough for a child, but we can fit
seven in this room that is not quite a room,

an in-between place almost a basement
and almost a cellar. We will throw a rug
over the wood during the times when

we are not afraid, and we will throw
a rug over our heads after we have climbed
down the ladder with missing steps holding

our fingers over the baby's mouth, our fingers
opened and bloody from the wood that is meant
to be walked on and not scratched at

And there is the bed where we will sleep
with the lights off, even though you are afraid
of the dark. This will be during blackouts

of course, and you will be seventeen, my sister
seventeen and sleeping in my bed, wrapped
into you instead of my husband who will

have been missing five months already and certain
for dead. Yours will be a fitful sleep, dreams leaving
you limp and shaking. You never used to dream

you never used to sleep, not wanting to waste
night on something so useless. You barely sleep
now but it's better when I hold you.

This will be the night when I change
You will lie next to me and I will lie next to you
our dreams overlapping, and we will not

hear the boots and I will hear the gunshots
and we will not have time to scrape our fingers
on the wood floor before I am downstairs and out

the front door in my night clothes and you are dead
in yours, arms over pillows, fear stopping your heart
even before the bullets

And there is the bureau where I will store
my keepsakes, jewelry on top mostly costume
but then what does a girl like me need with real gold

and sapphire. Only mother's last pieces, those I
will have hidden before they took her and father
for relocation as they will call it, or eternity

as we will call it. Only mother's and only my wedding
ring, plain gold and giving up its circle to begin
the tracing of my finger. We will sew these pieces

into the hems of our slips and cry that we cannot
sew photographs of each other. We will begin
wearing our underclothes to bed and we will begin

to memorize the faces of our loves through
the traces of our fingers.
I will not have time to remove your slip after

you die and before I am taken away.
I will not have time to memorize your face.
Three days later I will trade our mother's ring

for a drop of water in my closed hand,
and I will trade my wedding ring
for my daughter's life

I will dream of a town hidden in the Carpathian
mountains where there are walls I have built,
and I will patrol these walls endlessly through

the night, no need for gloves or sleep. Inside
the town I will keep those I love, a castle
with a drawbridge and a one woman militia.

But there is no safe place in these mountains,
I know this even in dreams. The drawbridge
chain will catch on itself and break and it

will fall towards earth breaking open
the panels of wood that hide my loves. Even
in my dreams you will die and I will leave

you spread out on my bed. I will not
have built the walls high enough

Poet's Biography:
  Eve Rosenbaum is currently an MFA student in Creative Writing at American University, where she is the Associate Editor of Folio, the literary journal. She has been published in journals such as, Caprice, Affair of the Mind, Artemis, and will be in the forthcoming anthology, On The Fringes: An Anthology of Young Jewish Women Writers, to be published by SUNY Press in late 2000. You may contact her at

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