Poems by Christina LilianTurczyn–“Ask Yourself”

Copyright Christina L. Turczyn 2016

Ask Yourself

This is all I have, a poem,                          If you want to get to know

spokes of pine turning in sunlight          how a woman in another country

cirrus spines of sky                                     braids bread, or how bodies of sand

leaves of shadow falling–                         blow away in war, you need to leave

people I knew, who almost                        your hotel. You need to stand

made it. This is all I have: a page              in the middle of an open square,

of earth, a tree, sky, body, names             watch pigeons huddle under

carved on bark, dunes of jazz,                   a bench, hear shops stop breathing

wood, grasses,                                               in the dark. Ask yourself what

syncopated consonance of love,                you came for, if you would

words shaking off the rain                         live with a local woman, learn

of music until only sinews                         the words for cobblestones and fear,

of rhythm are left, until words                 watch the flower of a winter sky

are bone-dark flint striking stone.          break into snow, ask yourself

This is all                                                        if you would try to pronounce

I am–everything pared down                  her name, at least that much,

to words, a woman saying                         eat berries,

“This is all I have. No more, no less.”         syllables, her life.

–First published in Gulfstreaming, Florida International University, 2003

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