An Atlas of the Difficult World

In her poem Eastern War Time, Adrienne Rich (1991, p. 44) illustrates that such [ethnoautobiographic] imagination, if pursued in its multiplicity and hybridity, is likely a far cry from a retro-romantic return to roots:

Memory says: Want to do right? Don’t count on me.
I’m a canal in Europe where bodies are floating
I’m a mass grave I’m the life that returns
I’m a table set with room for the Stranger
I’m a field with corners left for the landless
I’m accused of child-death of drinking blood
I’m a man-child praising God he’s a man
I’m a woman bargaining for a chicken
I’m a woman who sells for a boat ticket
I’m a family dispersed between night and fog
I’m an immigrant tailor who says A coat
is not a piece of cloth only I sway
in the learning of the master-mystics
I have dreamed of Zion I’ve dreamed of world revolution
I have dreamed that my children could live at last like others
I have walked the children of others through ranks of hatred
I’m a corpse dredged from a canal in Berlin
a river in Mississippi I’m a woman standing
with other women dressed in black
on the streets of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
there is spit on my sleeve there are phonecalls in the night
I am a woman standing in line for gasmasks
I stand on a road in Ramallah with naked face listening
I am standing here in your poem unsatisfied
lifting my smoky mirror

poem partly quoted in The Location of Culture by Homi Bhabha .. in this case found online at Ethnoautobiography

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *