9.1 / January 2014

Two Poems

In Hungary

listen to this poem

Our father wakes us gently without
bargaining or threats in the sound of
knife against cutting board eviscerating
the peppers he’s bought at market

How the wooded sound wakes us when
the opening and closing and opening
door did not we cannot understand
but he’s already gone to old women swathed
in skirts rising from chairs mountainous

He brings tomatoes that smell of earth
just where they have been bereft of stems
and peppers and bread and ham and the cheese
he used to eat when he was a kid
and the cheese I like that comes pouring
semiviscous vulgar from a plastic casing

I ask him why he did not wake us
to go out and buy the breakfast with him
and he returns that face (silent admonishment
of a chronic sleeper-late) as if he does not know
it is anything that I would do for him

Empire

listen to this poem

The Turks bring us pears pulled green (half-unripe)
from laden trees that surround the hill and
on it the building (square with square windows)
that was once police headquarters (after
it was the interrogation chambers
[perched atop still-rumored torture basements
upon torture basements] of the AVO
[which is just like the KGB except
these Hungarian police were secret
in that no one has ever heard of them]).

They have names like Asli and Irem and
Ezge (which means music) that I struggle
to remember the vowels in because
they come all at the start with a rounded
hollowness that my tongue or throat can’t make.
They carry fruit in plastic bags over
the crest of the hill and pass it around
as if to say “We are sorry for the
occupation” and “Look! We have picked these
with our hands to show they hold no swords.”


Alexandra Reisner is a writer shaped by the waters of the East Coast, Gulf Coast, and the Danube River. Her work has appeared in the Columbia Current, Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. She procrastinates by fostering dogs, designing jewelry, practicing yoga, and making lists. Find her on twitter at @juvenalia.
9.1 / January 2014

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