Ani Gjika

The Winter of My Childhood

Before writing, before toys, I used to draw stars.

Mami sat knitting me a sweater, advising

from time to time how to make an angle.


Politics on TV scratched at the screen.

Babi listened carefully, his body stiff, upright.

But I kept drawing, trying to perfect the stars.


I saw a gold star over a black two-headed eagle

on a red flag. Big men and women rose up

clapping: Long Live the Labor Party!


Mami, thoughts under her glasses, kept knitting.

Babi listened pale on the edge of his seat.

And erasing stars, I drew them all over again.


That year winter threatened our small house.

I heard winds howl, but I had drawn enough stars

to burn in the stove to keep us warm.



“The Winter of My Childhood” first appeared in Imagination and Place Anthology: Weather, March 2012.