"The poems are the work of a profoundly serious temperament and a professional translator of world into word"– Michael Salcman, Judge, Harriss Poetry Prize
From online publications:
Sunday Like No Other
Third floor, left, first door. He opens, smiling wide.
She is early. His suitcases line the wall.
He hasn’t heard; he doesn’t know. She steps over the threshold.
“You can’t go home, this morning the general in his dark
shades declared martial law.” more
Independent in East Berlin
Her father was a good German.
Her room alone was bigger than
my family’s Warsaw apartment.
Beyond the huge windows looking out
on the blank expanse of Karl–Marx–Allee
I imagined parades marching down to the Alexander Platz. more
Crossing Borders, Pursued by the Featheared Serpent
In the train snaking the airport loop,
pinned to the seat by a robot’s voice, I am alone. more
Queuing for Lenin
Cooing. Pigeons. Moscow hotel. The dream. I am waking up in my green room to the cooing of doves in the crabapple tree and the scent of hot cocoa topped with froth of egg whites. Sunday breakfast treat of my Polish childhood. It’s the day of the giant whale. more
Poem from Theodate
On the pillow of light
lies the darkness of her head.
Encased in Prussian blue fear,
the abundance of her golden flesh stifled
under layers of green-brown.
Alone like this at the mercy of Tupapaus. more
Face Half-Illuminated, Half in Shadow
Behind the small window a woolly sheet
underneath a dark-gray wing. Isolated,
we turn our clocks back—at first
cautiously, just one hour. more
I watch the approaching line between
shadow and light, stillness and breeze.
Before the line closes in on me, I want to bathe in the balm more
That pull. To the place
enclosed by a sandstone box.
From all over I am, again. more
From print publications:
Minkowice, Poland, 1940
Hours of waiting at the bakery,
all my money for a last loaf of bread.
Now, cycling kilometers to hunger at home.
Near the hamlet where roads cross,
I see German soldiers rounding up people,
my friend Hana among them.
I jump off the bicycle, run toward Hana
with the still-warm bread. “Death for helping Jews,”
the soldier points his gun at my chest. I trip and fall;
a bullet wails.
When darkness lifts,
I see trampled bread on the empty road.
(First appeared in International Poetry Review)
Once I went to the town where pretzels grew
rooster-shaped. Lines of buyers formed at dawn.
Aromas from the bakery weaved through
garden, castle hill, tiny crooked streets.
From the attic room where I slept forty
years ago the young sun still guides me down
the murmuring stairs on a dew-beaded
path through the garden of scents. I pull
feathery greens from shimmering rows—
onions, carrots, red beets. The soil inhales
my contented toil, exhales the hoed weeds.
Iridescent roosters peck at unlocked earth.
In the expanding summer the good witch
grants me memories and multi-hued dreams.
(First appeared in CITIES, A Book of Poems, Chuffed Buff Books, London)
With the first dip of biscotti came the memory
of the walnut tree. How did I get to it? On the outskirts
of the orchard, behind the well, at the side of the house.
Round, green, tough skin, hulls, palms browned before the mouth
got the bittersweet seeds. Grandma would bring them when she arrived
right before the Christmas tree and the first star. Awaited
in the breathing of fir needles, waxed floor, poppy seed noodles,
tangerines. After the Wigilia Supper, singing the carols
was like being in church, flowers on woolen Sunday shawls
rose with high voices, and eyes flamed from candles.
The blue-robed statuette of Mary smiled.
So, how did I get there?
From the train I see her wait. The horses pace
their way between fields ripe with smells and huts
whitened for me. Hollyhocks against the scrubbed walls,
red begonia windows. The town churchyard
where Grandpa and Great-Grandma lie.
Wio, wio; when I wake up we have turned into the avenue
that before the war belonged to a dwór.
I jump down from the straw-filled seat between four boards,
greet the lined-up mulberry trees, and dye my hands with
the taste of white and dark berries. Kick off my shoes and feel the soil,
the sand when the carriage makes a left between bending grains’
warm hush and buckwheat’s honeyed hum. I stop to pick
red poppies and ruffled blue cornflowers,
later to make cornflower wine with Grandma. I recognize
neighbors’ farms hidden in groves.
And now it comes: The shiny roof of the blacksmith’s shop,
thatched stables, two silver firs. I run on the nicest
carpet of greens that straighten up after the touch of feet,
hooves and wheels. To the house with the well and fruit trees,
like an altar, above the world down there—across the hay
grass and the talking stream—
where the sun used to retreat so the cows and horses
would return home and the frogs would sing.
(First appeared in Pivot)
The phone rings.
I like red phones. I answer.
I am wearing a red coat.
I am the little girl in my family album.
I am the little girl in the movie.
No, I am almighty.
I will send you help right away.
Do not get on the train.
Do not go through the gate.
Do not enter the chamber.
(First appeared in A NARROW FELLOW Journal of Poetry. Special Edition: Revealing the Art of Poetry)
I watched my heart beat, pump blood on the screen.
My blood was blue, my blood was red.
The surges were coming strikingly fast.
Spilled lightning storms through the valves that open
and close. The mitral valve, an untamed
galloping horse. The aortic, swishing
like a ghost train. Next I heard the tricuspid,
a gulping frog. Waves, spikes, walls, gates. Dangers
lurking in sounds, embedded in red.
And I thought of the Red River rising
above its flood stage, up to twenty-six
fire-tinted feet. I saw gutted buildings.
Over for now, news and my test. Echo
of valves and fires in red rivers stays.
(First appeared as “Echo—Testing My Heart” in Rufous Salon (Sweden))
“Cut the brain into small pieces…” The glass pane
of a huge window cuts me away from the metropolis
below, bloodied by Halloween’s sunset.
In my white lab coat, I know that the line means a prelude
to an experiment, entrance to a labyrinth of substructures,
enzymes, neurotransmitters, nanomolecules.
Yet with the glare of eerie light rising and dying
in the sky, I see the rat brain transform into a daily
morning-noon-afternoon-night human mind
of a scientist-poet-woman-mother-wife.
As the chilly blackness steals the splendid sky,
the poet shocks the scientist by likening the mind
to grandma’s pin cushion, densely pierced.
More and more pins pushed in.
(First appeared, in a slightly different form, in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine)