Internment

I am now the offspring of incestuous nations,

the backstairs child of your whore-mother, 

Europe. You recognize the glint of territorial envy

in my runny eyes (a textbook sign of inbreeding).

 

Surely I will stay true to the Kaiser.

At the very least, I have his profile 

etched in my lifelines, deeply, 

as when the krona 

burning your palm is the last one. 

 

I know what’s important: they won’t dig their trenches

across your farmyards, camp in your kitchens,

eat your chickens, commandeer your shoes,

pickles, and women. 

 

Or mine.

 

Without us our land will crouch 

again under the spades and hoes, 

swallow the bayonets, watch

whole cavalries vanish into mustard fogs

in search of my village. 

 

And here

angels run sleds down the roofs of nativities. 

We hold our breath, listen, march crisply, 

strategize defenses of our own camp. 

Enemy aliens, on more than one side

conscripts in the army of no regrets.

God’s frozen breath covers our tracks.

 

[1]At the breakout of WWI, 5000 Ukrainian immigrants were classified as “enemy aliens” and sent to internment camps across Canada.

Nina Murray is a poet and literary translator. She is the author of Minimize Considered (FLP, 2018).