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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Homesickness

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J’arrive òu je suis étranger.

         (I come to where I am a stranger.)

                   —Boris Vian

Mental illness

is a country I left a long time ago.

I miss the mountain views and small grazing animals.

Sometimes I go up to the attic, open the trunk,

take out the national costume I once wore,

and try it on to see if it still fits.

Postcards come

when I least expect it—they say only

Wish you were here,

with no signature and no return address.

The picture on the other side is always

an unretouched black-and-white photo

of a beaver dam,

or a pile of corpses heaped for burning;

I have never been able to decide which.

I send in

the annual application for reinstated citizenship

and receive by return mail a temporary visa,

stamped Invalid Until Further Notice,

and a request for financial disclosure.


When I hear

the national anthem I take off my hat,

place my hand over my heart,

and clouds cover the face of the sun.

"Homesickness" first appeared in Southern Poetry Review

F.J. Bergmann writes poetry, science fiction, and what falls between those worlds. She is the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. Her latest chapbook is Out of the Black Forest (Centennial Press, 2012), an illustrated collection of conflated fairy-tale poems centennialpress.com/curiosityshop.html.

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