Helen Ruggieri: “Bone & Ashes”
Old women in babushkas walk along
the tracks with scuttles picking coal;
they winnow ashes, scatter them over
the icy winter walk.
They save bones from Sunday’s meat,
boil them till the marrow makes broth,
give what’s left to the dogs
to bury under the lilacs.
Dish water scrubs the floor, egg shells
and coffee grounds feed the earth for
potatoes, onions, cabbage, beets.
They waste nothing.
Their left hands fold over rosaries
count each bead twice as they work.
What sins do they covet–