Before Escape

—In response to Lori Schreiner’s painting (below) entitled “My four-year-old mother with her family in their garden just before fleeing Nazi Germany”

Blue dress behind little-girl prayer hands. Sky
breaks like swirled light amid dull, faded glass.

Like broken light, mother’s eyes fade, a dulled
black rectangle already thinned because of history.

She holds her boy already thinned because their history
can’t hide his sad cartooned eyes under a light-blue cap.

His sad cartoon eyes don’t know their story, its light-blue
flame, small thumping heart of family trying to blend into a dark

picket fence. A family unable to blend even in darkness, child
legs dangle like mittens or firmly part, grounded, to hold the weight

of dreams. Mother’s migrant, weightless legs fade like apparitions
on their German soil. There’s so much more to a little girl’s faith

shown in the leaving, in a little girl’s hope amid soiled Nazi schemes.
Blue dress behind little-girl prayer hands. Sky breaks amid flight.


Author’s note: The author chose Jericho Brown’s duplex form in which to write this poem.