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on a line from Szymborska

My departure from the city of O.?
I took no leave.
I’d learned to sleep angry.
On a train I was contained.
The water under the bridge
was just that. Shunned metaphor.
It did not send waves of regret
or make me reflect.
It did not baptize, wash away, or cleanse.
The countryside appeared
like the sides of any country
where rain falls and cows chew yellow flowers.
The world was not too much
or too much with me.
I stomached it.
In the photograph I only look lonely
because I was alone.
You cannot see the envelope on my lap
or the letters lodged under sweaters in my suitcase.
I carried only one bag, what I could manage
in a crowd.
You can imagine I held a thick book
from which nothing could distract me.
You can imagine my head high, eyes dry.
I did not see my departure as a failure, or a fall.
I’d dodged a bullet. Been reborn. 
You can imagine it that way.
Only none of it was like that,
not like that at all.

Emily Pérez, "Dworzec." Copyright © 2017 by Emily Pérez. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.
Source: PoetryNow (2017)
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  • Image of Emily Perez

    Emily Pérez was born and raised in south Texas. She earned a BA with honors from Stanford and MFA from the University of Houston, where she was poetry editor for Gulf Coast and a teacher for Writers in the Schools. Pérez is the author of the chapbook Backyard Migration Route (2011) and the full-length collection House of Sugar, House of Stone (2016). Both books explore what poet Sasha West has described as “liminalities” or borders. In an interview with West for Letras Latinas, Pérez noted her desire to cross and explore familiar and familial boundaries in House of Sugar, House of Stone: “I want to know about the line between the self and the partner, the self and the collective. In families we make ourselves vulnerable to unknowable others—sometimes by choice and sometimes by the accident of when, where, and to whom we were born.”
    Pérez has received grants and scholarships...

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