Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine




On Moonmilk (Korolowka, 1943-2022)

     by Alexander Hollenberg


Absent the rusty traces of machined tools—

iron axe heads, sawblades, the odd blue shoe,


one could almost be forgiven

for thinking this cave a tableau


of prehistory. Look at how they hibernate:

gauzy skin a sign of light’s


absence and signs of abscess:

their scalps, soles, fingertips, unable


to access modern medical care.

Maybe tomorrow our garden will grow


from the white carbonate mosaic shoring

up the cavern walls, urging


them towards a more satisfying function:

a finger-fluted memorial made


from moonmilk, human testimony

harvested from stalactites.


These are the messages of refugees:

the smear, the scratch, the dye,


milky portraits lurking in the rock

petrified back into literacy.


Still testimony becomes

geology. Explorers will turn intrepidly


to the history of the rock before

that of the stranded.



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