The Primitive Road

The babushka in 15C
sits stoically waiting
for the plane to take off.
Her clothes are modern –
red fleece vest, leather flats –
but the gold threads
in her headscarf
speak to me, capture
the village light sparkling
on the water of a brook
where she played
as a girl at a time
when airplanes were still
the stuff of men and myth.

I steal glimpses
of her face,
studying the lids
of her eyes
and imagining what
she has seen through those eyes.
Then I close my eyes
and when I open them again
I am walking
through the dacha door
to our little garden,
where I give the goats
a sprig
of dill.

We are those who hold
the stories
of babies
we’ve buried
and men we’ve watched
and as the sky
lowers its ceiling
and the green
earth comes up around me,
this old woman and I –
do we cry out?

No, there is no keening.
There is survival here –
we do what needs to be done
and move
between worlds,
walk the primitive road
without signs
or warnings,
carry our stories
out to the garden,
tuck our words
and our longing into inside pockets,
into hidden scarves
that when unfolded reveal
the lost maps
of this abandoned plot of land,
this patch of time
when leaving on a plane
was not yet an option.

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2 thoughts on “The Primitive Road

  1. Beth P. says:

    This is a powerful poem. You are certainly on a wisdom path–somehow I see this babuska’d one inside your own outline…

    Thank you for this poem; I’m linking it to the piece I wrote last week about eldering, and as a follow up to a weekend workshop on ‘crone school’ that I just helped organize!

    Beth P.



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