To the Grandmothers

by Marsha De La O

Marsha De La O

Chernobyl, thirty years later

Old women with side gardens and jars
of moonshine alone in empty villages,

tell me, solitary lynx, multitudinous wolf
pack, how do you do it - all my life I've lived

in cities, bought food from grocery stores -
what's it like to return to the abandoned zone

on foot, reclaim your cottage beside the dank
canal, to howl, to hunt in packs, to foal calves,

fell trees, light down in the bodies of swans
and swim in cooling ponds, why would you

fly three thousand miles to build a nest
inside the cracked concrete sarcophagus

over the remains of reactor four? She grins,
hands over a jelly jar of vodka, the good stuff,

Last updated November 25, 2022