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Lament – Kassabova

June 29, 2013

Perhaps randomly, but… here is a poem by Bulgarian-born Kapka Kassabova (it is the first of a group of poems, entitled ‘The Immigrant Cycle’):


We came and found paradise, but something was missing,
something in the water, in the sky, in the movement
of hands that couldn’t laugh, or embrace,
or punish

‘they have no soul here, dushi nyet,
only sheep and empty roads
and full shops, but where is the soul?’

‘I try to explain to mother in my letter, about life
here, but she doesn’t understand – they buy the bread
with dollars too, over there?’

we sing during the day, grind our teeth at night,
and try to lock away the murmur of the Black Sea
which has no tides, and hums in the summer
and is always there

‘back in Zagreb, to have a boat was my dream
so I build one, I call it Esperanza, I was about
to sail it on Sunday, then the war started’
our children have the large, moist eyes of wounded deer
but must betray no signs of weakness,
they must be winners
or nothing

our children know all the songs,
all the shows, all the jokes,
they try to learn the memories too,
our children are like the rest

it’s a sign of fluency to dream in a language,
but we dream wide-awake and in silence,
we think about our dreams
in broken sentences

‘they do not understand
they won’t understand
they can’t understand’

we stand alone and stubborn, we spend years
looking for a crack in the neighbour’s wall
but only find
a key

we came looking for paradise, and paradise we found
but it wasn’t enough, so we wept,
and talked about leaving
and never left.

Ref: (italics in original) Kapka Kassabova, All Roads lead to the Sea. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1997


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