by Susanna Lang
The young woman has forgotten the word for soul
in the language she heard on her first day in this world.
It is not a word for every day, not even over dinner
with her mother. Unspoken for days and days
it lies buried beneath other words, other languages
that fill the streets of her new city.
Still, she once knew what it was.
Maybe she heard the word in a monk’s blessing
or when she half listened to her uncle’s stories
as she played among the rug’s arabesques.
If she digs in the small garden that has been left to itself
behind their apartment building, dirt under her fingernails
and roots blocking her way, she might feel the word’s edges,
the hard consonants, murmured vowels. She might remember
sunlight warming the mountainside near the village
where she first smelled apples ripening in the orchards.
That fragrance, apples in sun—that might be what she’s missing.
Susanna Lang’s chapbook, Self-Portraits, was released in October 2020 (Blue Lyra Press) and her translation of Baalbek by Nohad Salameh is forthcoming in 2021. Her third full-length collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was published in 2017 (Terrapin Books.) Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Prairie Schooner, Delos, The Literary Review, American Life in Poetry and The Slowdown. More information available at www.susannalang.com.