Church of the Holy Spirit, Rohatyn 1924 You enter to escape the cold & find a canvas of St. John, his hands unsealed to write. Other icons, painted in vibrant reds, mounted on wooden walls’ slick gloss. All white men, suffering and suffered. Christ, stripped. His chest: ribbons of bone. Archangel Michael, Abraham— young boys again. You ask them about hunger. How to outrun changing flags like a child outrunning its name. A war, past, yet still humming. Your mother thinks God must be dead, but you ask the sky to show its hands. For manna to frost the cemetery’s leaning statues, forlorn rows. To frost wood, overrun by lifelines like an old man’s palms. For red water to spill forth from the Hnyla Lypa cursing below, its name already lost on new maps. You search the saints’ eyes before turning, light ivying their faces. You think a house can keep you safe. The bodies, buried. Doors that won’t spit you out. You search their hands, empty as spoons. They can’t take away what you pray. This weight: fist & bone & wail. In their silence, you hear blood, as it spins like air through a windmill’s vanes. As it coppers the chambers, makes them flame.
Notes on Inheritance
“This is the only kingdom.
The kingdom of touching:
the touches of the disappearing, things.”
When I see wax, I think of submission.
I think of afterlife. I think of the sky
& what it leaves behind. I used to think
myself a doe, then a hurricane. The muscle
inside the tongue. The prayer-sore. Again
& again, something foreign. Fugitive. So briefly
I was a girl. A young woman. A mule, mother, arm-
rest—the sky resting on a bridge overlooking
the river. That cold, cold water. I waded in,
three seconds to numb. & nothing. I can’t give in
to love. What will become of us
when it’s the child that is imagined?
Our gods: the fields under a haze
of mosquitoes. And lo, the stars’ white
fire. And lo, the splintered spines of spruce
trees. And lo, the disappearing hours.
I stretch my neck into the next life.
I breathe in the cherry blossoms & bomb-
scent of aftermath. I don’t care why
I didn’t want this. I lean into myself.
I take what is offered until I forget
I am what is offered. With the orchard
& the apple I didn’t name. There is
an hour that bears my grave already.
It’s late. I can’t help but wish I wasn’t
lonely. That I wasn’t made to disappear.