Each Day the Trek

A train a bus a train
each day the trek
Up at six back at eight
each day the trek

Sewing sweaters at work
for strangers
Sewing uniforms at home
for her daughters

It’s a hard life,
it’s the life she fought for
it’s the life that helped her
escape the old one –

A river a forest a field
each day the trek
Up at dawn back at dusk
each day the trek

Building walls at prison camp
for her captors
Building hope at prison camp
for her family

It’s a hard life,
it’s the life she fights
it’s the life that took her
away from the old one –

A border a checkpoint a black market
each day the trek
Up at dawn back at nightfall
each day the trek

Selling smuggled sugar by day
in a hostile country
Feeding her family at night
in an equally hostile country

A train a bus a train
each day the flight
Up at six back at eight
each day the flight


Written for the Immigrant Portraits prompt on Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.

My grandmother smuggled sugar across the Polish-Russian border in order to feed her mother and siblings during World War Two. She was caught and sent to Siberia, where she was kept until the war was over. After a brief time in a Displaced Persons camp, she immigrated to America.

8 thoughts on “Each Day the Trek

  1. This is so touching.. especially the repeating lines; “each day the trek, Up at dawn back at dusk each day the trek” give me goosebumps! Beautifully expressed.

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    1. Thank you! It occurred to me as I planned the poem that all her “moments” involved long commutes (so to speak), so I decided to organize the poem around that motif ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is definitely up there with “most difficult experiences.”

      She met up with her father and brothers, who had been captured separately, and they lived together in the camp. The river image sticks with me because of the story she used to tell about her brother: He was a very weak man all his life. It got to the point when he was too weak to walk to work, and her father and the other two brothers would carry him to and from the work site, because otherwise he would have been shot. She described the tiny bridge that they had to cross single-file over the river, and how difficult it was on the days when they had to carry her brother. (They all survived and made it to America, built new lives and families. Her mother and other siblings were killed in Auschwitz.)

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