Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

How Loud Bones Speak
by Barbara Krasner

Time is nothing if not amenable.

Decades and centuries pass

but the handwriting in Polish, Russian, Yiddish

persists like craters of the moon,

its light and shadows casting

interpretations of word usage and order.


Time is nothing if not amenable

to the discovery of the voiceless

paper trail, a point of view rendered

only by the civil records clerk

who’s just doing his job

without a care about

the lives he safeguards in memory.


Time is nothing if not amenable,

because I can find you,

burrow into the lines of the records,

ferret out that you were fourteen

when your mother died

or you, over there, that you married

through a civil ceremony

decades after the unrecorded, unrecognized

religious one so you could immigrate.


Time compresses and I appear

between its lines. I stroll 

the dirt paths and watch

as my great-grandfather

announces the birth of

a child to the clerk. The clerk

writes, “It happened on this day,

in this month, and this year,

in this town, that the Orthodox Jew

brought forth…”


Time and time again

the clerk takes up 

his pen and scratches

the flowery words

in his ledger book

as he has been trained to do.


About the Author

Barbara Krasner received the 2022 Miriam Rachimi Microchapbook Award for "Miss Emma Lazarus Enlightens the World." She is the author of Chicken Fat (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Pounding Cobblestone (Kelsay Books, 2018), and the award-winning Ethel's Song: Ethel Rosenberg's Life in Poems (Calkins Creek, 2022).