Tatiana Tatarchevskiy

Two Mothers

They went to two churches,
One in the evening,
One in the morning.
The evening church was called Hope.
The morning church was called St. Mary’s.

Alva said that’s how they do it in Lithuania:
walking from one church to another,
through the snow-padded village,
carrying sweet bread and a pair of skates
crossing the ice-clad lake,
stick figures in a Bruegel painting.

But it’s 53 degrees here, and it’s Connecticut.

They sat on hard benches,
listened to the preacher and priest –
one wearing a knit sweater,
the other in a gilded robe –
not understanding a single word
in English.

Hope Church looked like a schoolhouse.
And in St. Mary’s Church her coat caught fire.

But when the star finally rose
they felt content
thinking about their daughters’ divorces,
limb losses,
the milk-white light in the windows.
First, humming, and then –
and singing


Of all of them, jars and tins,
whispering on the dark shelf of my childhood,
among perfumes, oils, pomegranate beads,
sugar was the most puzzling.

What would my hand do with it?
Spill. Sprinkle. Scatter.
Stick a stake in its moon surface,
make mounds on one side,
stir valleys on the other.

As the spoon turns,
a key in the white sand,
it disappears – just a quiet rustle,
its silver sinking
into the dune of the bottomless bowl.

Same for a paintbrush,
a wooden spatula,
a clothespin.
Same for a sticky index finger.

It’s fate!
We are all drowning
pulled by the gravity of sweetness,
defenseless sacrifice to the unknown.
Come back! Come back! Return to me.
But in this dim lab of mine
no tears are allowed.

Light snow falls into hot water,
a quiet tempest brews.
its granulated love
to one short-sighted child.

Dish of Apples ca. 1876–77
Paul Cézanne

Tatiana Tatarchevskiy was born in Russia and lived in the United States for eighteen years before relocating to Ireland. Currently, she is completing a MA Degree in Creative Writing at University College Dublin. Here, she is researching and writing a novel on mother-son relationship in the context of Eastern European immigration to America, and working on a debut poetry collection, Winter 89. Several of her poems recently won the 2020 Ireland Chair of Poetry Student Award, including “Two Mothers.”  

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