June 15, 2006

Ashes: Rome 1946

by Kathi Wolfe

Soot bombards my hair.
Soldiers, blinded in battle,
tell rough-edged jokes to hide
their tears. If only I could
conjure spells. I caress their faces.

My hands smolder. The Braille
dots smell like acrid socks.
Your home in Connecticut
is gone. It went up in smoke,
everything lost except
the silver
, a friend writes.
The dining room chairs,
Japanese vases,
the dog’s water dish,
my manuscripts,
turned to ashes.

I wipe sweat off foreheads
of wounded vets, brush dust
from my wrinkled dress, and write
in the beginning was the word,
the potion against self-pity.

(One of a series of poems on Helen Keller. "Ashes' takes place when Helen is 64 years old. She is visiting wouned soldiers in Rome after World War II. Other poems in the Helen Keller series have appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Innisfree Poetry Journal and Not Just Air. )

Poet and writer Kathi Wolfe is working on a chapbook of poems on Helen Keller under a grant from the Puffin Foundation. Her poetry has appeared in The Potomac Review, Gargoyle, Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly and Kaleidoscope Magazine. Wolfe has read at many Washington, D.C. area poetry series, including The Library of Congress Poetry at Noon series. Her freelance journalism and commentary has appeared in The Washington Post, Utne Reader, The Progressive, The Disability Rag (now the Ragged Edge), New Mobility and other publications.

Posted on June 15, 2006