A Great Beauty

And when her son never returned
from the meant-to-crush-him camps,

the crucible of Poland,
always-hard-at-work Isa slept

for endless hours,
and once, under her lids, she was led,

by diligent female Virgils,
to a vast meadow

where an inspirited Isa embraced,
one by one,

countless women who remained
in mourning for their cherished sons.

Gallant and stricken,
together the myriad bereaved

but defiant women formed
an ever-widening circle,

prodigal with bitter tears,
and then, suddenly,

like a jackdaw darting
from eave to sun-drenched eave,

something flew between the throats
of the grieving,

heart-gutted mothers,
and a great beauty arose:

In the dream, Isa recalled,
the singing of the harrowed women

with war-taken sons
hushed the world’s barrenness.

In the dream, the startling river of sound
altered the embattled earth.

From The Crossed-Out Swastika (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) by Cyrus Cassells. Copyright © 2012 by Cyrus Cassells. Used with the permission of the author.