It’s Not Me Reciting


     For Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzberg
Transport Train 7 is in motion again,

Going who knows where, the brigands

won’t say. In prison I was a stone, now

I’m lighter, shifting sand. I press my nose

against the boxcar slats and smell onion fields

growing, read the color of the sky, searing blue.

It’s June, 1939.  We all wear the same gray

uniform. Some of us, just out of solitary,

haven’t spoken for more than two years,

now we all talk at once. Zinaida recites

her own poems. Sonya says life before Yaroslavl

was long ago and never happened anyway.

Who am I? Until today I was Cell 3, north side.

I was once a teacher, journalist, mother,

wife. I recite Eugene Onegin, hear sighs.

Who knows when you’ll need a poem?

Guards pound the door, accuse us of hiding

books. It’s not me reciting poems.

It’s not God, he was deposed with the Tsar.

It’s this boxcar holding seventy-six women

prisoners in it’s arms. It’s the rustle of women

lying down on their bunks to remember love.

It’s the wind seeping through the slats of the train.

It’s these wheels keeping time to Pushkin.
*Original music accompanying these poems were written by Steve Jones who is a composer, musician, songwriter, and teacher who lives in Kensington, MD. He has written two jazz musicals.

Joanne Rocky Delaplaine’s poems have previously appeared in Poet Lore, International Poetry Quarterly, Beltway Poetry Quarterly (featured poet, Walt Whitman issue and anti-war issues), The Northern Virginia Quarterly, and elsewhere. She is currently a co-director of the Café Muse, a poetry reading series in the Washington, metropolitan community.