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A Pysanka for My Mother’s Poetry Book

It kept the table steady, her marbled
notebook filled with poems.

The pages go blank a few months
after I was born, when the uneven

dining room table needed righting.
There, I watched her hold her kistka

over the candle, letting it melt words
I could not then comprehend

onto the egg surface. She would tell me
what the written-wax meant: why

it was called a pysanka, from the Ukrainian
pysaty meaning “to write,” and then

she could translate the symbols, the art. 
But I wasn’t listening, too captured

by the dyeing process–lowering
eggs into Mason jars full of candlelight.

I watched the oval shadows descend
into wombs of color that would leave

their stain. She used a wooden spoon
to scoop the eggs out without cracking them,

the curved wood of its half-bottom 
took each one of my mother’s shades

until it was black, just glistened
as it dripped out of the jar mouth.

Posted 03/19/18
Books by Luke Johnson
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