This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios, released by Word Poetry in 2021.
The belch of the big engine in the ship's belly is the Kalavala monster in the stories Papa whispers to me each night. It roars like the mouth of the river near the wooden house we left behind. Coal dust under our nails, in papa's mustache, between my teeth. Onnie, finally quiet, sucks on Äiti's breast and Äiti sings Laulaa laulaa. Cold is everywhere, pressing on us, even my blue wool pusero can't keep me warm. I miss stones humming silver songs of Kullervo, the tuulen voice that intones the words of Kalevala and mountains singing the ground that makes my bones soft with wonder. I miss grass and the faces of yellow flowers that shiver over my head. I miss the dirt path that dances up the hill to the sauna, where Papa's big iron brush makes the walls smell sweet like laipa that Äiti pulls from the small clay oven. The horn blows and blows and hurts my ears, but Papa says that means we are arriving in Amerika. He holds me up to the round hole in the side of the big boat, and I see the biggest lady in the world holding something over her head. The horn blows, Onnie cries, Äiti sings. Papa whispers I have to be a good girl and hold his hand and learn to speak English when we leave this dark space. I can hardly wait to see what Amerika will look like. I hope it has lumi like Finland. Äiti = mother pusero = sweater tuulen = wind's laipa = bread lumi = snow
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