Faith, A Russian Wife’s Tale

by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach —

She thinks it is because he hit her,
thinks the tiny hard spot grew
into a monster, a mountain, a man, his fist
buried in her breast, his fist
a mouth. She says, if only he’d hit me
anywhere else, believes he meant to leave
parts of himself inside, believes
it had to hurt because that’s how
he knew to love her, and she believes
in love though she’s forgotten what it is
to love the body. Hers is nothing
but uzli, hundreds and hundreds of them,
knots on a knit quilt, around her wrists,
inside the lymph nodes, knots
for every direction of wind.
If she unties one, she thinks
she will become illegible, a compass
always pointing east, a fisherman’s net,
the fish, loose or lost, and she doesn’t know
which is worse. She’s started drinking
to understand him, takes it cold
and in a tea cup, tells herself
the pain comes from outside her body.
And when he holds her hand
and rests his head against her
missing breast and tells her
she is soft and golden, she believes
her body is a map, it’s every ocean floor,
it is saltwater and sand.

Julia Kolchinsky DasbachJulia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee at age six. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her collection, The Many Names for Mother, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Kent State University Press in Fall 2019. Author of the chapbook The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press), Julia’s recent poems appear in Best New PoetsAmerican Poetry Review, and Nashville Review, among others. She is Editor of Construction Magazine ( and writes a blog about motherhood (