Siedlarz's work has appeared in The MacGuffin, Calyx, Main
Street Rag, Rattle, and elsewhere. She edits Connecticut
River Review. Her chapbook I Dream My Brother Plays Baseball
is forthcoming from Clemson University Press.
How I love to pretend we are happy.
Christmas Eve, thickening sky, we look
for Gwiazdka, Little Star of Bethlehem,
to begin our feast. At the table we break
oplatek, bread of love, exchange wishes
for happiness and health, bygones forgiven
with a kiss. Hope burns. Like a close family,
we smile over pickled herring, pass beet soup,
red as hell. Warmth a guise for one night where
we get along. Maybe. We do love pretending
on Christmas Eve. Five types of pierogi, flounder,
baked cod. We eat, spirits high. A fairy tale.
The captured Christmas tree wears hundreds of white
lights, a starry sky. Carols complete hearth.
We raise our glasses, na zdrowie, toasting to health.
For years, I've ignored cursing and fights. My feast
has to be perfect. But I've no forgiveness for a brother
who kicked my dog. Twice. In the stomach.
A stepmother who stands beside her son. Now I
understand why my youngest brother just stayed away.
It's time to stop overlooking truth, obvious as night sky.
I can't heal years, the absence of love.