Photo Courtesy of Humayunn N. A. Peerzaada

I was born in the first century of guilt.
Between shattered church bells, we played

in a cemetery of wishbone homes. Ghosts had no
middle names. Every night I curled

on a bench with the moan of a cast iron stove.
In November meatless heads of cabbage

churned through the kitchen, chatter
of chickens before the axe guillotined

the fogged glass. I counted the pulse, the pulse
of termites between floorboards. Memorized

the wall cracks like borders drawn by clouds.
When the house flooded with the river’s excess —

tired of drawing borders — my parents drowned
their wool coats in the Rhine. Mold bloomed

in the moist crevices between our eyelashes.
Flying over the Atlantic, water swallowed

the scent of home—rust and cinnamon.
The itinerary was stamped in our palms at birth.


Monika Zobel

Monika Zobel’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, Mid-American Review, West Branch, Best New Poets 2010, and elsewhere. A senior editor at The California Journal of Poetics and a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Monika currently lives in Vienna, Austria and translates contemporary Austrian poetry.