The Watchword

So now you make an entrance,
never my ghost,
the partisans’ poet, their luck till the end.
Now you waver like a daylit candle
seventy-three years burning
and not done with memory yet.
You came up from nothing but words,
hardworking Hirshke,
dreamed forests within walls
and new roads from the forests
and left your inheritance of the dispossessed—
the words for going on with.
Blood or lead, a song must outlive its singer
or it dims bitter in a land of milk and honey,
crawls to a shadow among skyscrapers and walkups.
Beyond the break of the pines, I still hear you singing,
in my mouth sometimes,
sometimes in your own.

Sonya Taaffe

Sonya Taaffe reads dead languages and tells living stories. Her short fiction and poetry have been collected most recently in the Lambda-nominated Forget the Sleepless Shores (Lethe Press) and previously in Singing Innocence and Experience, Postcards from the Province of Hyphens, A Mayse-Bikhl, and Ghost Signs. She lives with her husband and two cats in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she writes about film for Patreon and remains proud of naming a Kuiper belt object.

Photo Credit: Rob Noyes

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