Akoot Famous Writers

Who Will Know Us?

for Jaroslav Seifert

It is cold, bitter as a penny.
I'm on a train, rocking toward the cemetery
To visit the dead who now
Breathe through the grass, through me,
Through relatives who will come
And ask, Where are you?
Cold. The train with its cargo
Of icy coal, the conductor
With his loose buttons like heads of crucified saints,
His mad puncher biting zeros through tickets.

The window that looks onto its slate of old snow.
Cows. The barbed fences throat-deep in white.
Farm houses dark, one wagon
With a shivering horse.
This is my country, white with no words,
House of silence, horse that won't budge
To cast a new shadow. Fence posts
That are the people, spotted cows the machinery
That feed Officials. I have nothing
Good to say. I love Paris
And write, "Long Live Paris!"
I love Athens and write,
"The great book is still in her lap."
Bats have intrigued me,

The pink vein in a lilac.
I've longed to open an umbrella
In an English rain, smoke
And not give myself away,
Drink and call a friend across the room,
Stomp my feet at the smallest joke.
But this is my country.
I walk a lot, sleep.
I eat in my room, read in my room,
And make up women in my head -
Nostalgia, the cigarette lighter from before the war,
Beauty, tears that flow inward to feed its roots.

The train. Red coal of evil.
We are its passengers, the old and young alike.
Who will know us when we breathe through the grass?

Written by Gary Soto


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