A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
And waters went on with their dance of chance and light
as the boy drowned into the river. The Czech have a word for
what he felt after he ran home with two A’s
and found his dad overdosed on the couch. A word for what
drowned that child. Or for what it is that will keep gutting
a woman’s belly after an abortion; or what weighs, exactly,
in each sheet pulled over a son, lover, daughter, mother.
In each sheet pulled over a son, lover, daughter, mother,
litost weighs. After the auction of his last tractor, it is litost
that plows into the farmer’s heart. In bullets terrorists fire,
in guns pointed at them, there is litost. Kundera says it’s un-
translatable, that America has no name for this. He’s right.
But what if we did? Would a word make such pain more
tolerable? As if language could help.
From A New Hunger by Laure-Anne Bosselaar, published by Ausable Press, copyright 2007 Laure-Anne Bosselaar. Reprinted by permission of the author.