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Migrations, exils, errances et écritures

 | 
Corinne Alexandre-Garner
, 
Isabelle Keller-Privat

Poétiques nomades

Poèmes

Nadell Fishman

Texte intégral

Something More True Than This

This is how my people ate :
hard-boiled egg in one hand

boiled potato in the other,
a glass of black tea.

Hard-boiled egg in one hand,
I surprise myself some days.
A glass of black tea :
where did I learn to eat this way ?

I surprise myself some days
as if from nest to nest, I collect eggs.
Where did I learn to eat this way ?
My knuckles red and gnarled

as if from nest to nest, I collect eggs,
as if I earn my bread by my hands,
my knuckles red and gnarled.
When I look in the mirror I see my people.

As if I earn my bread by my hands,
I’m old in their wiry gray hair.
When I look in the mirror I see my people.
Our almond eyes look back darkly.

I’m old in their wiry gray hair.
I don’t know my people’s names,
our almond eyes look back darkly.
Which streets did we live on ?

I don’t know my people’s names,
and if I go there, to the old country,
which streets did we live on ?
What do they need I can give them ?

If I go there, to the old country,
boiled potato in my hand,
what do they need I can give them
and how will my people eat ?

An Ocean Between

Valentina is home for the summer
in Karelia’s green afternoon dreaming
in Russian again, the table set

with sour cream and borscht in brown crockery,
as alphabet of familiar sounds crooning
to her and her American-born daughter.

Their shapes march then float up easy
as Russian thoughts but an ocean boils
between the shores of mother tongue

and a language whose heart she hasn’t yet found.
In the yard of the house where she was raised
generations line up, mingle ; an arbor opens

where grapes hang low or is it just the romantic in me
remembering what I cannot know. Heaven over Russia
is more than stars in a dark sky.

Only once my grandmother crossed that ocean
over which my friend flies.
It’s what is mirrored there

in the faces of her sisters, her babushka-
mine fled pogroms, poverty, a husband
and two sons-they were black spots

on her old heart-though I’ll never know why.
I taught her see Spot run from my primer,

but English never took. That family is lost
to me even if I could find the ones who live. Now
Valentina reaches the shore and breaks
her own trail, drives her memories

deep into a foreign country, through Russian thoughts
that battle their way to English
and the slow furl of her tongue.

Livno, Bosnia, 1994

In the smallest U. S. capitol, I meet a young mother
learning to speak English. Opened before us a book
of color photographs and on the page,

moist plums. She tells me she grew fruit trees-
not a few in a garden-but row upon fragrant row,
clear to the horizon.

Thirty years ago, I want to tell her, a farmer bored with potatoes
Planted thousands of saplings on his open fields. I live there
with my family under the swaying tops

of forty-foot Norway pines. We could draw a straight line we could not
follow from this New England town to that abandoned orchard
in Livno. Neither planter nor pruner,

I imagine those trees burdened without her, ripe plums
and the ground mottled with rotting fruit,
black with bones.

© Presses universitaires de Paris Nanterre, 2012

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

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