(for my mother-in-law Marija)
He said, ma, the water is burning
but how can water burn?
But then, I smelled and saw
smoke outside this Blissville apartment
with my children on the floor, cardboard
in their shoes. Outside
are words jangling. I knew
German Russian Polish
Lithuanian and now this lumpy
English with its sticky spider letters
climb and make my tongue
stumble and knock into my teeth.
The creek is burning.
my father’s house built brick
on solid brick and I thought nothing
could move this house.
I didn’t know that I would move
and run west holding my husband,
my daughter’s hand, my pregnant belly,
across Lithuania, into Germany, across
the Atlantic to live beside a smoking
creek of burning water.
I only know this
street, these thin
walled rooms, my walk
to the factory of cursing
women filling bottles.
I don’t call this home.
Aileen Bassis is a poet and visual artist in Jersey City working in book arts, printmaking, photography and installation. Her artwork can be viewed at www.aileenbassis.com. Her poems are published currently and upcoming in Mobius, Haggard and Halloo, Marco Polo Arts Magazine, Eunoia Review, Blue River Review, Untitled with Passengers, Gravel Magazine, River Poets Journal, SPECS Journal of Arts and Culture, Spillway and Still Point Arts Quarterly.