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January 31, 2006

History is the bridge over the past
tense, an arc of illuminated dust,
the light from the projectionist’s booth
that makes motes of your mother’s tears—
It’s the movies without the rain of stars,
Casablanca, without the grainy mist,
a nostalgia, and the flicker for what never was,
the lost, the lost….

and here you are, in the supporting role—
waiting for a visa, the inked
permission to exit the country you know only
too well, beyond the reach of roots.

You are packed:
the clothes of your new life
folded and stashed in your mind—

and again you rehearse:
the border, customs, forms
to fill. Again you write:
nothing to declare,
nothing worth currency.

Written by Maria Benet of Alembic.

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  1. January 31, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    Maria, I’m delighted to be first here, to tell you how much I like and admire your poem. “the clothes of your new life/folded and stashed in your mind” is just one of several images here that will stick in mine.

  2. February 2, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    The journey you describe here, with its hint of transformation and renunciation, feels at once hauntingly familiar and utterly mysterious. Great poem, Maria.

  3. February 3, 2006 at 9:39 am

    Crossing the Frontera. Your poem had me crossing borders in my memory. My wife is from Baja so we cross at Mexicali and Tijuana. My dad is from Canada so I have crossed at Windsor and other places. And you know, I always feel like I am in a movie. And part of always feels as if I am sneeking something thru. Plums, Cuban cigars…something. But in reality I am just smuggling in my memories. Thanks for the memories!

  4. February 3, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the comments. It’s an honor to know how the poem has managed to smuggle its meanings across the borders between writer and reader!

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