Full title: A Collection of poetry about a Russian Refugee: Looking Behind, Home Is Not Here, Smile Back
In this collection we see the story of a woman and her journey from Russia to the United States. In these three poems that tell three very different moments in her new life. First in Looking Behind we walk side by side with a woman as she crosses the freezing terrain of Russia to meet the boat that brings her to America. A trip that begins with many other people but slowly she comes to realize that she makes it there days later alone and wonders if this is worth it. Realizing that she can’t turn back she makes the trip. In Home Is Not Here we watch her as she works long days and nights to pay back the people that brought her to America and she continues to question is it worth it. The America she had heard of is not the place that she is living it. When she finally gets her true freedom she enjoys a run down the street, wind in her hair, rolling in the grass and a new friend that simply offers her an apple, maybe she will make it. Finally in Smile Back for a short time she experiences home. Living in New York she finds the neighborhood where all Russian’s who make it to America want to live. Same language, culture, values, church, stories and understanding but when she gets married and moves away she again finds herself searching for Home.
Walking hoping that no one is behind us
But you do not dare, I do not dare
We do not dare to turn around.
Turing around will cost us precious time
Time we do not have
Time to live
One more minute
One more hour
A day or two if we are lucky
If we can make it to the meeting place
Where possible freedom is living on the other side of our trip.
Memories of childhood
Growing up with my brother Vladimir
Not knowing how bad live here was.
I love my home, the beautiful land.
Never to get love in return.
Poverty, starvation, no electricity, no jobs
You are born poor, live poor, stay poor, die poor.
Only family and love to push you through.
No more pushes. It is time go.
Mother plans our escape from
Eleven hours walking
Weight on my back
Two legs feel like one
Weight feels like a ton
Feet feel like brick shoes I did not try run
Freedom feels like someone else’s perfect story.
The sun was our guide for so many hours
“Just keep your head towards the sun,” my mother said.
“Keep walking and when your feet hurt look to the setting sun,”
It has gone.
The sun had risen and set in the hours that we had been walking.
What was our guide now?