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Poem With Ethnic Overtones


ISSUE:  Autumn 1995
The black boat ride to somebody who looks like me is not
  big history. Why

we find familiars is not the high felt cap, rose and black, I
  soon wished

you’d bring for me. Is not the hundred wheels of rye bread
  thread on ceiling

poles for our first year. Is not the smoke sauna where you
  soon said you

would like to scrub my back. Is not the unearthed food:
  turnips, beets and

tubers. Dark meat for a nine month winter. Is not the loom
  and rugs, a cow

and flax linen—the dark dowry I would have had to bring.
  Is not the black

pots, heavy as the iron age, vowels simmering in porridge,
  our icons wincing

in the corner when their twenty minute flamesticks died: a
  pole of skeletal

light yours and mine really lived. Is not my name, which
  means burnt over

field sown with grain, and yours, which means nothing but
  water. Is not my

lifelong love of licorice in all its shapes, and the pocket of
  your friendly coat

filled with the nibbles you offered as a way to talk to me, a
  stranger, on the open

air ferry. Is not more than you soon lifting my sticky hand,
  a leaf still on the

tree, lifting my familiar hand, chanting Dear, Dear.

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