Lisa Siedlarz

Lisa 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.


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