I Am From

by Carla Savetsky

I am from asphalt and tar, dark apartments in Queens and Brooklyn, suburban blocks with large, Tudor homes and old growth sycamores. I am from peasant stock, those from the old country where the borders of Austria and Romania and Poland converged and shifted many times over, like the tectonic plates that lay beneath them.

I am from tragic loss, the unspeakable atrocity of six million Jews gassed in the ovens of Auschwitz and Dachau. From the silenced lips of Ukrainian Jews who had their land and businesses confiscated by the Cossacks and then went into hiding — eventually fleeing to Israel and Hong Kong, Chicago, and New York. I am from this resilient strain, the heartiest of refugees, having lived through Siberian winters in unheated rooms with nothing to eat but the soup of old bones, boiled over and over again. I am from a lineage of women who crossed the Atlantic in the bowels of an ocean liner, overcome with a nausea all-consuming, inflicted by the tiniest of lives growing in their wombs.

I am from the aftermath of that era, and all the darkness and grief and sorrow that had no luxury of an outlet. My body was created from the children of those who’d imbibed the purest of evil, taking up residence in their cells and tarnishing them a permanently darker hue. And in the New World of hope there was no room for the cloying despair, where all was a bit too bright, a visceral dissonance.

I am from that progressive suburban town just two generations down from the pogroms, the slaughter, the dictates of Adolph Hitler, with integrated school systems, “open classrooms,” accelerated math, and Homecoming. I am from packs of teenage boys and girls that drank until everything went black, and smoked hashish out of sparkly pipes, listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on repeat for hours at a time, smuggling munchies from the kitchen and then smoking some more.

I am from Greek diners on treeless highways, Chinese restaurants on the Upper West Side, and bohemian cafes along the foggy Mission, cloaked in a long black cape.

I am from a sacred line of women healers woven through many past lives — midwives and nurses, witches, and plant-shaman. I was dreamt into being through the mind of the high priestess in the long purple dress. Her understandings have been passed down through my very essence, living in my teeth and bones.

I am from the scorched earth in an unforgiving desert and sunny fields of dandelions with golden medicine in their stems. I am from a pink-tinged star blinking in a distant solar system and the shimmering moonlight on the clearest of black nights.

I am the abyss.


Carla Savetsky is a holistic women’s health specialist, healer, mother, singer, and writer. She is currently finishing the second draft of a memoir about spiritual guidance in the face of a life-threatening illness. She lives in Amherst with her teenage son and pet snoodle.


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