Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Special Feature: "Visitor" by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Contest Judge

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Contest Judge

for Ravi

“Come, I will teach you,” your young self
tells my young self in the school gymnasium.
I learn how to step wide while turning
with such speed that I can fly around your step.
You already know that you will never go back
to your first country, just as I won't live a half continent away
where I started. How long have we known each other?

In the dream, you show me a photo of your son, not yet born,
and place a handful of stones on the grave of my father,
long before he died. I call you on the phone and leave a message
between waking and forgetting we are not the same person.
Sometimes when you wake, you reach for my glasses
only to find your own. The music changes, but not time:
we are still practicing in the empty university classroom
or turning up the cassette player in the parking lot,

decades later from when we started. Like a dust devil
on the hot black surface so open and bare, we whirl crooked,
a Jew and an Tamil dancing the Swedish hambo.
Each step a leap around you, this dream, this friendship
old as the dirt in our new land, your brown arms light
as fallen leaves. I hold on.

Poet's Notes: This originates from a poem I probably first drafted over thirty years about learning to hambo from my friend Ravi. A few years ago, Ravi found the poem, took a photo of it, and emailed me the jpeg. Nothing like seeing, on the screen of my laptop, my words typed out from way before I imagined computers. I reworked the old poem, keeping the ending line, “I hold on,” and tweaking or majorly changing over parts of the poem to try to convey the slippery nature of time. 

Editor's Note:  What a delight and privilege it has been to feature Caryn as the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Poet of the Month!  I hope that you enjoyed this rare treat as much as I enjoyed presenting it. For those of you planning to enter the Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest, which officially launches tomorrow, I trust that reading Caryn's work this month has given you good insight into her style of poetry.

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