“Korzenie” by Aurea Kochanowski
My father calls and he asks me,
in arching Polish,
Are you home?
And I don’t know how to say it.
Nie wiem, tato.
There is nowhere to go
in my skin,
no warm hearth here,
no fencebone posts.
I am itinerant in me
while this body creaks as it pleases
and changes without my permission.
I am so far apart from my parts.
Jesteś w domu? Nie wiem, nie ma mnie.
My grandmother wandered too,
for generation after generation,
from polka and Rroma and Carpathia.
She says we’re from old rootstock,
spread out far across the earth.
We belong upon two feet.
There is nowhere we don’t live.
When it rains,
I swallow handfuls of soil from her garden.
I pull up all the weeds inside my throat.
I pack up my heart in a basket
and I go and get lost in my ribs.
Call your father, wnuczka.
But I still am not home –
I am not anything –
and I wear my fingers down with all my digging.
I only feel familiar in the morning dew of your arms,
when we are not yet awake
and I’m not sure where I am
but the leaves outside are still as green
as my veins in the grass,
reaching out of the soil
to find light.
Aurea Kochanowski was born the only girl among thirteen grandsons, based in Australia with Polish-Rroma heritage and a taste for spoken and written stories. They have work featured in Bent Street, Concrete Queers, and Liminality magazines, among others. They are queer, will definitely go into that museum over there, and have an unfathomed enthusiasm for chickens. You can find them on Twitter at @AureaGaily.