Vox Populi

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Gary Margolis: Pancakes and Kabobs

Our town invites in three thousand refugees.

We used to count ourselves in, our town

of nine hundred fifty three. We’ll have to

rent extra seats for them to raise their hands

at town meeting. Roll out blankets

to kneel and pray on.

Some of us are more fearful than afraid

of pocket bread, lilac-colored head scarfs,

smoked lamb’s tongue. Some of us speak

two languages in our sleep, field and sea.

Where they’re from they rarely vote

by closing they eyes, laying their heads

down on a school desk, raising their hands.

Or, as we do sometimes here,

when we’re concerned what our next door

neighbor will think, we write

an x for yes on a piece of paper,

y for no or leave it blank

as an unplanted field. When we’re asked

to vote on whom and how many new citizens

we can take in. Remembering an empty manger,

a boat teeming with fish, that first nurse

who welcomed each of us into this swaddling

world. Before we knew how to pray we’d be

wanted here. Sitting or kneeling or not at all.

A skull cap under a baseball hat. A blessed

silk scarf to give away. Or wear on a cold day

in March. The parking lot overflowing

at our polling place. The folding tables covered

with apple pancakes and kabobs.

Copyright 2017 Gary Margolis


Syrian refugees arriving in New England.

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