The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Monday and Birthday Dinner


Pantoum
By Marilyn Hacker

for Fadwa Soleiman

Said the old woman who barely spoke the language:
Freedom is a dream, and we don’t know whose.
Said the insurgent who was now an exile:
When I began to write the story I started bleeding.

Freedom is a dream, and we don’t know whose—
that man I last saw speaking in front of the clock tower
when I began to write the story? I started bleeding
five years after I knew I’d have no more children.

That man I last saw speaking in front of the clock tower
turned an anonymous corner and disappeared.
Five years after I knew I’d have no more children
my oldest son was called up for the army,

turned an anonymous corner and disappeared.
My nephew, my best friend, my second sister
whose oldest son was called up for the army,
are looking for work now in other countries.

Her nephew, his best friend, his younger sister,
a doctor, an actress, an engineer,
are looking for work now in other countries
stumbling, disillusioned, in a new language.

A doctor, an actress, an engineer
wrestle with the rudiments of grammar
disillusioned, stumbling in a new language,
hating their luck, and knowing they are lucky.

Wrestling with the rudiments of grammar,
the old woman, who barely speaks the language,
hated her luck. I know that I am lucky
said the insurgent who is now an exile.

--------

The morning after Daylight Savings begins always requires sleeping late, whichever way the clocks are moving. After we eventually got up and ate lunch, we decided to go to Great Falls to see how high the canal and river were after all the snow last week. The towpath was a combination of ice, slush, and mud, so our shoes are not pretty, but the river was spectacular -- huge rapids at all three bridges to the island -- and there were vultures, seagulls, herons, and a pair of ducks around. And the temperature was gorgeous!

In the evening we picked up my parents and went out to dinner for my mother's birthday at the Busboys & Poets in Hyattsville, stopping in College Park -- home of the Big Ten Champion women's basketball team! -- to pick up Daniel, Adam, and Adam's girlfriend Christine. Suffice to say that although the food was good (and there were lots of veggie options), it was the worst service I have ever received at any restaurant and after two and a half hours we decided to skip dessert. At least the Night of Too Many Stars rerun is on!







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