The world is mine. The mountains are mine
The dimpled hills I made with my finger.
The snow is mine. I lick it, stomp it, dream in it.
The night in the night sky is my breath.
The stars I’ve gargled in my throat.
Those lavender flower bells in the prairie are mine.
All the apples on that bough mine,
even those I cannot reach and the cold
spring is mine and it loves my toes
my hair, my face, my hands and feet.
My grandmother is all mine, she braids
my hair in the evening by the fire
and in the morning my hair has waves
like the sea and the mare is mine
and she waits for me while I clean mud
off my boots and she stops before the big wooden
fences she knows together we cannot cross
for the wolves that pace my village are also mine.
They talk to me about the secrets in the forests.
They call up my fears so I may gnaw at them in the dark.
All the limestone rock, too, is mine.
And the cow dung that drapes the rocks.
Smells of the valley in spring is mine
when I walk along deeply trodden
wooden paths, and sheep follow.
One day a plane takes me away
to be with my father in Chicago
and we drive in an old big rusty
car down snow smeared streets
where people look down. We take
an elevator that smells of piss and
vomit and cheap tobacco and it has
an empty hole.
And I can see the many cords move
in the darkness up to the 13th floor
of what I will one day know is a
Half Way House and my father unlocks
the door and tells me we are going
to have a better life and a gun rests
on the radiator and it smells of beer,
and turpentine as roaches edge doors
and winds rattle windows.
Slobodanka L Strauss was born in Novi Sad, Serbia and at the age of nine immigrated to the States, and received a BA in philosophy at Loyola University and MFA at Lesley University. Strauss’ work has appeared in the Chicago Reader, Bitter Oleander, Atlanta Review and others. She currently lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.