(August 19, 1895 – June 19, 1987)
I imagine her escaping Ukraine,
breaking formation over unfamiliar terrain,
carrying her belongings in a wooden wagon
under a roof of vagrant stars
and sleeping beneath a shawl of leaves.
She bartered away her possessions in Proskuriv
salvaged them from her hotel ransacked by Cossacks
during the Bolshevik Revolution.
She gave up an old world to find a new one
more than five thousand miles away.
In America, she gave up her surname.
And though she spoke no English,
she learned the language of a new place
while keeping the old one alive.
coming so far to everything
bringing with her the voice
of an old country with quiet suffering.
and her husband's family
she remained silent as a sleepwalker.
Her husband died too before I was born.
She seldom mentioned his name,
and I did not know how to ask.
in soft broken tones for the right word,
mispronouncing a vowel or consonant.
A long time ago, she would have
called my son Doll Face.
He is the only one to carry forth our name.
“Bubbie” was originally published in Prairie Light Review, 1994.