Migrant Letters

Yes we are fierce, yes we take our
possessions with us wherever we go,
especially the ones you cannot see.

In the city at dusk, in a one-room apartment:
the former teacher remembers his childhood
friend and childhood sweetheart, and is moved

to write a poem; there is rain in it, and rice
fields. At a restaurant: the woman who has not
seen her child in years, hesitates as she lifts

a soup spoon to her lips. How does a bowl
transform into an ocean of salt and misgivings?
Its shallow depths are the sign of constant

uprooting, its ripples the sites
of the sloughing off of many skins.
Where will you be tomorrow?

Just when I thought you would stay, a letter
arrives with another forwarding address.
Have you a grandmother, a babushka,

a lola, a nonna? She sits in a doorway
or on a porch, feeling the light on her lids.
Sometimes, pennants of color and noise flit

through the trees, like words in another tongue.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Going to the Acupuncturist in the MarketThe Road of Imperfect Attentions →

5 Comments


  1. I like, too! The migrant, immigrant and exile experiences are crucial, I think, because in a sense virtually all humans are “strangers and sojourners in the land,” as the Bible puts it. Those of us who have more or less stayed put for a few generations sometimes need to be reminded of that.

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  2. I love this poem deeply and intensely. The image of the bowl of soup and the woman eating it will stay with me for awhile.

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    1. Yes, I was just going to leave another comment saying that those were my favorite lines, too: “How does a bowl/transform into an ocean of salt and misgivings?”

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