On today’s “Other People’s Words,” a poem about people, places, and distance. Debra Gingrich’s “To My Yugoslavian In-Laws” is about all that we have in common, and a few of the things we don’t.
If we could speak,
I would tell you that we have
trees here too, and rivers.
I know how to hammer
a nail. Transatlantic phone calls
are expensive, even for us
with our two cars, dishwasher
and American salaries. That he
will not get lazy or forget
about the ways he needed to make money
during the war, the merchandise
exchanged in dark corners of Turkey.
He is still thankful for good health.
He passes on every kiss
you tell him to give me.
I would admit that he misses
the stone beaches of the Adriatic,
he accepts the Atlantic’s murky water
as part of the compromise. He thinks
Lancaster’s streets are too vacant
at night and there is no place
to ride a bike. Also, that I wouldn’t take
your name and will never
believe the wine in the cup
turns to blood. That he and I can’t
agree on a slipcover for the couch.
That there is no perfect place