Glosa on Migration

Glosa on Migration

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Adrienne Su is the author of the new poetry collection Peach State (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021). Her other books include Living Quarters, Having None of It, and Sanctuary (all published by Manic D Press), and Middle Kingdom (Alice James Books). Her awards include fellowships from the Barbara Deming Fund and the NEA. In addition to inclusion in five volumes of Best American Poetry, her work has appeared widely in publications including The New Yorker, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner and Cincinnati Review. She is Professor of Creative Writing and Poet-in-Residence at Dickinson College, PA.


Glosa on Migration

From WTP Vol. IX #3

My bones are a family in their tent
huddled over a small fire
waiting for the uncertain signal
to resume the long march.

— Stanley Kunitz, from “Day of Foreboding”

Each day’s news further depletes my bones.
It is not only the deaths
abstracted to numbers,
but disbelief
in the seats of power,
where some seek not to reinvent
the kingdom of opportunity
but to banish the very legend,
rending child from parent.
My bones are a family in their tent,

switching homes with me all day
because it is human to imagine
and isn’t empathy a migrant mind?
The poet Stanley Kunitz
sat immobile for hours in his garden,
ignoring heat and briars,
to win the trust of birds,
who perched on him.
This is what it means to aspire.
Huddled over a small fire,

the travelers carry infants,
water, faith in human goodness.
I see them in miniature
around the small blue flames
of my stove, which never goes hungry,
as if replenished by angels.
I see young parents saying goodbye
to elders or leaving notes,
vowing to create much from little,
waiting for the uncertain signal.

Most of us build our fortunes
on someone’s odyssey.
The impulse to pull the gate shut
is kin to the fear our forebears crushed
when, by plane or boat or foot,
they made their risky start.
Whether they pictured a palace
or a small garden with birds,
each day they had to invent new arts
to resume the long march.

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