March 13 – snow and a poet new to me, Dunya Mikhail

Monday  March 13

“If anyone stumbles across it,
return it to me, please.”

Last Friday I spent the afternoon visiting with, and an evening listening to, Joy Harjo at the University of Michigan’s Michigan League.   Joy emailed on Wednesday to explore the possibility that I could drive to Ann Arbor.   It worked out because I had a free afternoon and evening, an unanticipated grace.  She read mostly from her most recent book  Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.  Listening took me into stillness for c. 2 hours;  to the language of her poems and of her flute, and her sax.  Definitely worth the 45 mile drive from our campus to Ann Arbor.

That night Joy introduced me to the Chaldean poet Dunya Mikhail.  Dunya and I share some of the sprawling space of Metro Detroit and we share the Catholic faith, hers Chaldean, mine 1840’s immigrant European.  When I got home, I looked for some of her poetry and found  “I Was in a Hurry.”

Best to read out loud,  with pauses.  It’s snowing here    Have a blest week.

john sj


Today’s Post:  “I Was in a Hurry”


Yesterday I lost a country.

I was in a hurry,

and didn’t notice when it fell from me

like a broken branch from a forgetful tree.

Please, if anyone passes by

and stumbles across it,

perhaps in a suitcase

open to the sky,

or engraved on a rock

like a gaping wound,

or wrapped

in the blankets of emigrants,

or canceled

like a losing lottery ticket,

or helplessly forgotten

in Purgatory,

or rushing forward without a goal

like the questions of children,

or rising with the smoke of war,

or rolling in a helmet on the sand,

or stolen in Ali Baba’s jar,

or disguised in the uniform of a policeman

who stirred up the prisoners

and fled,

or squatting in the mind of a woman

who tries to smile,

or scattered like the dreams

of new immigrants in America.

If anyone stumbles across it,

return it to me, please.

Please return it, sir.

Please return it, madam.

It is my country…

I was in a hurry

when I lost it yesterday.

“I Was in a Hurry” by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Elizabeth Winslow, from The War Works Hard,

copyright 1993, 1997, 2000, 2005 by Dunya Mikhail. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.


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