Sotaratsu

by Brittany Sando


I

I watch broken wooden skis snapped
Like Finnish flagpoles, stuck
In a pile of dirty snow.
I want to wrap them in a cast,
Like glass I’d meld the wood back together
If I could, but I can’t.
Not without turning the broken wood
To ash.

II

When I was a little girl, I had my own a pair of wooden skis,
I used to ski down mountains, mountains
That stretched into the sky, so high
I could never quite see the tops.
As I swung my blood bag ski boots back
And fourth, perched on the icy blue seat
Of  the chairlift, I used to wonder
If the thick mist that covered the mountain tops
Was really bomb smoke from a war
I was too young to know about.

III

My great grandma Elle had a pair of wooden skis,
Broken down the middle and charred
Down the sides, like meat left on the grill too long-
Black flakes still fall from the oakwood like snow, like the snow
Those skis once tore through; they were fast
Elle told me, and they needed to be, tearing
Through war zones, through Soviet uniforms, through
Bodies, cold, colder than the snow.
Lifeless eyes reflected firelight from the burning city-
Elle skied into the flames.

IV

I don’t know much about war, but I know about my wooden skis.
They don’t bend their knees to cruelty the way people do.
Bomb shrapnel can’t sink into wooden skis, 
Not the same way it sinks into skin, like
Copper coins plunging into a wishing well,
Taking something built with hope and filling it
With metal.

V

Elle’s wooden skis were broken and charred,
Too damaged to move on, but not Elle.
She walked out of Karelia with her wooden skis
Tucked under her arm, kept her head
Above the smoke, above the fire.
Elle will never be broken.Brittany Sando is currently a student at Interlochen Arts Academy. As well as poetry, she enjoys writing screenplays and novels. When she was in seventh grade, Brittany had her original one act play performed by her middle school’s theatre department, and won third place in the Philadelphia Young Playwright’s competition for it. Outside of writing, Brittany spends most of her time watching movies, doing makeup art, and having fun with friends.