She lies in bed shaking, covered in sweat.
She could have sworn she’d hid it in the stocking drawer,
but every time she looks, it’s gone.
Stumbling out of bed in the dark, she holds
her arms out, gropes toward the dresser to look again,
opens the third drawer, fingers
through the thin sheer of her panty hose.
They were never bombed.
Nights in the cellar were warmer with schnaps,
and she had her bottles hidden for years
from her husband, hoarded them
like the city rat that she was—
one under the bed,
one behind the couch,
one in the stocking drawer.
But now they are gone and she doesn’t remember
drinking them all but she doesn’t remember
much anyway, snippets lost to a haze
like the stumbling images of dreams that sicken
her in her hung-over mornings—
rodents in a cage she forgot to feed so the mothers eat their babies,
a trip to Leoben to visit her brother but the train derails
and the soldiers come and take her son,
sirens wailing, but she can’t move her feet because she is
paralyzed so she thinks this is it, she will die.
Then she remembers.
Once she went to the market and bought Irish whiskey,
and she stashed it behind the smoked mackerel in the cellar.
dim morning light dissipating in the gray stone
cellar with all its ghosts,
and behind the cans she finds it—
warm amber like the earrings her husband had given her,
malty smell of soil and nuts,
bite on her tongue to drug her tremors away and leave her
with warm legs, warm fingers,
and nothing more to hide.
—Appears here with author’s permission, from her most recent collection
of poetry, Occupied: Vienna Is a Broken Man, & Daughter of Vienna
is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado, and lives with her two children, husband, and pets. Her books include Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010); two full-length collections from Word Tech Editions, Rust (2016) and Coming Up for Air (2018); and the full-length Occupied (Pinyon Publishing, 2020). She is an instructor of English at Front Range Community College and works as a writing coach, editor, tutor, and ghostwriter. In her free time, she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.
Author’s website: www.kikadorsey.com