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.