The End of Strife in a Single Word
by Florence Weinberger
Coming from the country of insufficiency
where scant grasses and chicken feet could be a meal
my mother, undaunted by the way her languages
were sometimes not enough to make a hearty sentence,
stuck together syllables, phrases, breath and alienation.
On days it rained hard hours on her marketing rounds,
she pictured clouds so laden with water
that when they cracked open would empty
and empty and finally empty so completely
it would never rain again, it would be done,
and for that she had a single word, ausgereigent, hard g’s.
Now you might want to know what this has to do with pogroms
and words like kike or spic or chink that get under the skin like ticks.
Maybe nothing, maybe everything, that’s the way of translation,
a woman drains a cloudburst like a boil, turns it into bliss,
a blue sky, a clear day, stilled water drying in the sun.
* * * * *
"The End of Strife in a Single Word" was first published in Cultural Weekly.