it starts with a complete loss
of words
in any language you know
(the one for communicating
the foreign one that surrounds you
and at night usurps your dreams
and the most profound one –
you wonder for days about the
mother tongue translation
of a common word)

then the inexplicable sadness
(you can’t explain it,
because now you can’t name it –
there are no words)
you are not even sure
if you are sad, let alone why
you just know that
you don’t feel right
and you are sleeping badly
(you’ve become very aware
of how things can take
a turn for the worst)

then you start to miss
small things
puppies, kittens, tiny babies
and your husband says
you’re ovulating
but you know it’s
something to do with
your heart
(your heart curls up
into a smaller fist
and it rubs and rubs
its eyes  the side of its face)

and you don’t feel right
(you find it easier to look
at pictures of landscapes
than photographs of your family)
and you postpone
phoning home

and then one morning
you hear the sound
of your own language
and you know
why your words left
(they were leaving you
so as not to break
your heart)



S(h)ifting the city



friends come to visit
i hold up a looking glass to the city
i can not find the perfect angle
i’ve always thought it moody
invicta, stubborn and unwieldy
it does as it pleases
like the cats resting
on the window sills
of  its aging buildings
but then
there are moments
the city brushes up against you
weaves around your legs
a soft surprise
and these days
it spins and purrs
for tourists
all done up
though unfamiliar with
all the paint and gloss
(a memory: years ago, after i first arrived, in a cafe
watching an old lady putting on the brightest pink lipstick
…tracing and retracing the feint curve of her mouth – i was mesmerized)
i hold up a looking glass to the city
but i’m no longer sure of my reflections