Comments by the Editorial Team
“You Are My Hiding Place” contains superb imagery and allows us to think about how trauma comes through generations in mysterious ways. Even though the need to hide ends, the ramifications of this need go unresolved – with non-linear and sometimes-surreal historical echoes. The poet handles the hanging “if” clauses deftly.
You Are My Hiding Place
The hole in the floor is old, old, old country.
It lives under the kitchen table, yawns wide
while the family eats, wider still when they starve.
Cold above, so below. When the horses march up to the house,
the hole—it has teeth—they chatter. Grandma says the hole
is where the women go when the Russians come.
Paramutation of hoofbeats. Epigenetic fur hats.
A long tablecloth, white-knit lace
brushing the floor.
If a black boot peeks under the lace.
If a sharp woolen shoulder leans down, suspects
a wooden floor, a hidden circle. Or
a dirt floor, a carefully dirt-covered
lid. If anyone sneezes. If a leather glove
lifts the lace, folds up
into a tiny helix, leaves a switch
on a molecule, leaves
a bootprint in a bomb shelter
a gold button in the basement.
If a woman opens her hand decades later, reaches
for something, brushes away
webs of dust, stares
into the sudden dark circle
in her palm, says
hell is this
Leah Horlick is the author of two books: Riot Lung (Thistledown Press, 2012), and For Your Own Good (Caitlin Press, 2015), a 2016 Stonewall Honor Title. She lives on unceded Coast Salish territories in Vancouver.