• By
    Claire Basarich
  • 19th February 2017 at 1:33pm

Subserb

Subserb
 
I repeat his story
as though it were my own
with holes where words should be
 
In a country of plums gone off
 
Rot turned to sweet fermentation
pipes smoked
speaking done with eyes only
conversations between pupils, corneas
with spaces to be filled
 
A cousin welcoming
folds me into the story
as though I were one of his own
 
The delicious burden of a word
wrapped in other things
 
A pepper, a wilted cabbage leaf
filled with meat
a stew
a familiar odor, bodies
filled with cabbage
 
A molasses cookie covered in homemade icing
white snow, her hair white
 
Tell Grandma that Christ is born
it will make her happy
and she will respond
indeed he is born
 
Hristos se Rodi
Voistinu se Rodi
 
And the word became God
and the word was God
and god was God
and it was good
 
 
The men were miners
farmers with pronounced chins
the women mothers with clear blue eyes
a round face
 
Voices of guarded saints
sing Orthodox harmonies
their faces flat and geometric outlines
in gold tones
 
This is all I know of the story
to hide a secret I haven’t been told
I am one of a people
removed and replanted
growing again with new names
 
The word written as it sounds
the curse and blessing
of an Ellis Island Official
having a bad day at work
and doling out the same last name (like cookies)
to thousands of faces
to him they are the same
 
Thousands bear my name (they are not me)
Basar, which may mean wanderer
or traveller
but none know for sure
 
I can’t trace the geometric outline of
this uprooted family tree
nor can I pronounce the words correctly
but I can tell by the chin
the round of a cheek
 
My sister’s face in my father’s face in my grandmother’s face
 
We are one and many
borrowed words
that mean one thing
and inside,
others.