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Harvesting Chopin
by Maja Trochimczyk
                        For my Grandmother Nina,
                        Uncle Galakcyon, and
                        Father, Aleksy Trochimczyk

The straw was too prickly,
the sunlight too bright,
my small hands too sweaty
to hold the wooden rake
my uncle carved for me.
I cried on the field of stubble;
stems fell under his scythe.

I was four and had to work–
Grandma said – no work no food.
How cruel! I longed for
the noon’s short shadows
when I'd quench my thirst
with cold water, taste
the freshly-baked rye bread

sweetened by the strands
of music wafting from
the kitchen window.
Distant scent of mazurkas
floated above the harvesters
dressed in white, long-sleeved shirts
to honor the bread in the making.

The dance of homecoming
and sorrow – that is what
Chopin was in the golden air
above the fields of Bielewicze
where children had to earn their right
to rest in the daily dose of the piano –
too pretty, too prickly, too bright


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