Under the bed, the monsters grow restless.
Babushka tells me she hasn’t been sleeping well,
blames it on old age, a bad duvet cover,
the dreams. I’ve been searching, she says, for the last
hour. Do you know how hard it is
to find one that will fit right? Their bed
is small, So many choices! And has been
ever since we emigrated. She likes it
that way, the same size as where
there was no option
for a bigger one. The other night, I was thrashing
so hard, she must have thrown herself
against my grandfather. Dedushka had to
wake me. He must have been so shocked
by such a touch. Must have woken
afraid too. I ask who she was running from.
I rarely remember. It’s all such silliness,
she tells me, repeating
she has no idea
where they all come from. I’m always
trapped, trying to get out. Always failing.
But last night, We had a child with us,
age six, I think, (me the night we left?)
and they were shooting, bandits, shooting.
And again, trapped. She keeps repeating
how it all comes
out of nowhere. No way out. The shooting
everywhere. And I keep trying to escape. Repeating
there’s no reason for it. These dreams.
Old age. How she doesn’t understand.
When you dream
of monsters, I tell her, you know they come
from stories. From childhood. You know
they cannot hide under your bed, inside your closet, but she checks there, nightly, grateful
not to remember,
most mornings, at least.
Grateful, this past
And she believes it. There’s so much
online now. More beds and monsters, more
covers that don’t fit well or hide enough.
But how do I choose without touching, without feeling
the fabric? She believes in a softer linen,
believes that it will help her sleep.
JULIA KOLCHINSKY DASBACH emigrated from Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She is the author of three poetry collections: The Many Names for Mother, winner of the Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 2019) and finalist for the National Jewish Book Award; Don’t Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Idaho Poetry Prize; and 40 WEEKS, written while pregnant with her now 7-month-old daughter is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2022. Her recent poems appear in Poetry, American Poetry Review, and The Nation, among others. Julia is the editor of Construction Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and is completing her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Philly with her two kids, two cats, one dog, and one husband.