Jehanne Dubrow


Warsaw, 2002

Twelve years ago, I was the little girl

who watched her work. She cleaned my parentsí house,

cooked meals, took care of me. I learned from her

a soft language, each phrase sounding like hush

and the swishing shut of my bedroom door.

This time when we meet, phrases I used to speak,

easily as swallowing mint tea,

taste strange. The words are stale on my tongue and stick.

We stand beneath a farmerís tree to steal

his pears. Taller, I reach the higher boughs.

Small, smaller than I thought, she shakes the trunk.

We laugh as sweet, green fruits tumble down.

She shook me once like this. When I was five,

a butterscotch stuck sideways in my throat.

Her arms were strong from lifting pots of soup

and kneading dough and maybe I felt light,

the breath kept from my lungs. I was her sack

after the shops. Upended. Emptied out.

We must have both breathed then. Against the floor,

an amber candy glistened with my spit.

Jehanne Dubrow
Jehanne Dubrow was born in Vicenza, Italy, and grew up in Yugoslavia, Zaire, Poland, Belgium, Austria, and the United States. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Hudson Review, Tikkun, and The New England Review.



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