Ancestors in a Shadow
While shovelling stones the colour of an eighty-four-year-old’s hands, I catch out a shadow slouched against the pile. My shadow, but not the shape I’ve made myself know, not the poised reflection I summon each morning when I choose to focus here, while I diffuse there, there and there.
This shadow has an unashamedly Slavic profile: the too-long nose and chin tucked in for the task, the dainty tilt of wrists and back even as I rest the shovel – the daintiness caused by praying mantis wrists that murmur of trouble and a lumbar and sacrum that live together but are no longer on speaking terms. My inheritance, along with a molar that grew and fell three times, and both last ribs three times as long as they should be.
From the corner of my eye I catch this shadow out again and again. In each instant that it freezes (before becoming coy), I witness my grandmother there, and my grandfather, and all the others before, condensed to a singularity against the stones.