Her heart was a Mediterranean

Edwin Honig would have turned 96 today.  Child of a polyglot immigrant family in New York, Honig devoted his life to the art of poetry in translation, crossing linguistic & cultural divides.  In this time of great refugee distress, I would telegraph this Honig poem in reply to all the anti-immigration demagogues (Trump, Le Pen).

For an Immigrant Grandmother

She sat for an age at the window with glances that threw
Pennies of pity at collarless beggars, and cripples
Who crawled like crabs from gutter to curb rippled
The geese in the bag of her hunched-over flesh. But you
Always could tell by her murmur for heaven to witness
When neighborhood children like sparrows hopped in distress
To catch from the hand of the baker his three-day-old bread.

Yet she danced with a hint of the hips and a lilt of the head,
And the savor of turbans and princes and spices welled
From her smile like a promise of Turkish delights withheld;
For her heart was a mediterranean cradling the earth
With wishes that tumbled like fish and golden sea fairs
Where pirates were drowned and angels were spared by her prayers,
Till she slipped unaware on the edge of a sigh to her death.

young Edwin Honig

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