Ruins of Pompeii, or Ancestry

By 
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Not whole, the way we know them now, but fragmentary
hollow skeletals that seal the human or reveal
what it once was. Breath stolen by volcanic gas
and corpses dressed in ashes. An imprint of dust
upon the body, or the body onto dust. Excavators filled
the distance between bone and absent skin with plaster,
made flesh-form evident: a naked relic for collection and display.
My grandfather has never been there, but I showed him
pictures of the ageless forms, coiled snails within
a manmade shell: mother and child cinched at the neck
by soot and centuries and history’s pressure turning
them diamond. Did he wish then that his mother too
had been cast in immortal ash, or was he grateful
gas chambers, mass graves, and crematoriums left nothing
                                                                       to reconstruct the body by?

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach holds an MFA and is earning a Comparative Literature PhD. She is the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014). She has received numerous prizes, including the William Carlos Williams Poetry Prize, Academy of American Poets. juliakolchinskydasbach.com.

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

—bucketofrhymes, "29 Amazing Literary Magazines You Need To Be Reading", Buzzfeed Books

Room relies on subscriptions from readers like you. Help us continue to promote and support diverse women and genderqueer authors and artists by subscribing today.

SUBSCRIBE

Currently on Newsstands

  • Devour cover: Pink background with 3 arms. One each lighting a candle, holding a vibrator, holding a tea bag over a cup
    Room 43.2, Devour
    Edited by Jessica Johns

    In this issue:

    Manahil Bandukwala, Dessa Bayrock, Megan Beadle, Brandi Bird, lue boileau, Rachel Burlock, Justina Chong, Mollie Cronin, Marilyn Dumont, Edzi'u, Ashleigh Giffen, katia hernandez velasco, erica hiroko, Jessica Johns, Shaelyn Johnston, Yume Kitasei, Mica Lemiski, Jessie Loyer, Annick MacAskill, Callista Markotich, Sonali Menezes, Kai Minosh Pyle, Natasha Ramoutar, Carmina Ravanera, Rohsni Riar, Jessica Rose, Rowan Siah, Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch, Kelly S. Thompson, Arielle Twist, Phoebe Wang, Yu-Sen Zhou

    .