I See Men, But They Look Like Trees, WalkingSpruce & pine, fir & birch,hornbeam & beech washed ashore.These trees were migrants first.Wrath, sea urchins and anemones, ferns.Hedgehogs of dried flowers and thorn crowns.The branches conceal seedswithout shore or limitwalking trees,in fishing boats, on rafts.Dust blowsbodies onto the shore,gingkoes, excavators,makers of eyes.The trees are brides and frogs and green crumbs,storing air.These trees under water breathe.The refugees rain inside their breathing.Mother Dreams of Her SonThe mountain is a ring, a cadence.Tree crowns, clumps of green with blue,swelling, sound the one mystery note,orbit their girth, our longing steady.Between you and me a tree took root,a bird raged its hollows,seeds of ring scattered onto the sod.
Copyright © 2017 by Ewa Chrusciel
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Ewa Chrusciel is a bilingual poet and a translator. Her two previous books in English are Contraband of Hoopoe (Omnidawn, 2014) and Strata (Emergency Press, 2011). She has also published three books in Polish: Tobołek (2016), Sopiłki (2009), and Furkot (2001). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US, Italy, and Poland, such as Boston Review, Jubilat, Colorado Review, Il Giornale, and La Freccia et Il Cerchio. She is an associate professor of creative writing and poetry at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. (Author photo by Michael Seamans)
“This new collection of poems by Ewa Chrusciel gives astonishing attention to the migrants in our world. For those who love translation, these poems read as if half-original, half-version, just as they should, being both becalmed and capsized in spirit. Transparent sea-swells carry the submerged cries of humanity. This poet is a marvel at hearing and finding beauty where there is no good.”
“The condition of displacement has never been so widespread, or so misunderstood. In her hard-hitting new volume, Ewa Chrusciel weaves together the rich narratives of refugees across several continents, and – with great tenderness – gives us a way to hear the ‘rain inside their breathing’.”
“Reading the poetry of Ewa Chrusciel is like listening in the dark to the dark and familiar vowels of the stranger, the suppliant, the Pilgrim, the immigrant, the homeless, the stateless, the refugee, the walking trees, the Other. That’s how you discover that the Other is just a mirror-hyperbole where the virtues and the fears of the Self are projected. Because migration is an integral part of the human adventure on earth, as old as humanity, religion and poetry.”