Spring 2017, Volume 22

Poetry by Abigail Warren

Found in Translation

Every Friday and Saturday, and sometimes mid—week, when my brother is not at the Moose Lodge, he goes to Momma Mia’s in the backwater town where he lives. My brother, a redneck from Virginia (what my in-laws might say), but what I mean to say, my brother, a man who’s spent a lifetime on his knees laying tile in rich people’s homes, yes, my brother, who after September 11th would say unkind things about people from the Middle East. One night, he tells me, when a bunch of us were closing down the place, at Momma Mia’s, Tommy, a Vietnam vet, shows up in the parking lot when we’re all leaving; and asks Joe, the owner, if he’d make him a cheeseburger. Joe went back inside, turned the grill on; made that cheeseburger. I ask, “Is Joe Italian?”  My brother says, no – then quiet – Says Joe gives him letters on Fridays and asks my brother to read them, because Joe can’t read English, barely speaks enough to wait on his restaurant full of rednecks. My brother reads Joe his letters translated from Arabic to English, customers happy with his pizza, everyone sitting at the bar, listening to his children’s letters, news from home, for their father, from Syria.

The Black-Capped Chickadee

her birdsong,
outside my window,

and I am drowning in
your absence.
I dig around the hydrangea,

shaping a well,
spread coffee grounds rich
with acid for the soil,

hands gritty with the grounds
of my morning ritual.
The flowers droop not unlike

your hair when you piled
your curls high on top
and they fell around your face.

This small world
of mine
holds you everywhere;

I tremble as it speaks to me.




BIO: Abigail Warren teaches at Cambridge College and facilitates poetry workshops for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in western Massachusetts.  She is a recipient of The Rosemary Thomas Poetry Prize.