By Olga Livshin
…people like me. Does not like our sweatshirts,
pilled, our backpacks, full of bric-a-brac,
us, detained, on the floor, airport animals.
Something has claimed that my adopted
country’s autobiography of openness
is finished. Something opens the mouths
of my Jewish immigrant family to mutter:
good for those terrorists to wait,
hope their turn doesn’t come.
So thank you to all of you,
who sprang to protest when something
forbade people who are like me. Thank you
for translating your memory of Babcia, of
Abuelita, into this mom, traveling home.
Your act of translation climbs over walls,
a prankster with tired eyes. It helps us
know each other. Gently it joins our hands
with Mr. Frost’s, asking, just one more time:
why would anyone help? What
doesn’t love a wall? And the cheeky poet
goes on hinting: “It is not elves, exactly…”
Olga Livshin is a poet, essayist and literary translator. Her work is forthcoming from The Kenyon Review and The International Poetry Review, and it has appeared in Jacket, Blue Lyra Review, Mad Hatters’ Review, and other journals. Livshin is commended by CALYX journal’s Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize, Cambridge Sidewalk Poetry Project, Poets & Patrons Chicagoland Poetry Competition, and the Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize (twice). She is the founder of White Oak Workshop, a collective that teaches creative Top of FormBottom of Form writing through responses to literature outside the Anglo-American canon. She lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania with her family. Visit her website at www.olga-livshin.com.
Photo credit: K-B Gressitt © 2017