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As the train rattled towards Paris, she chatted along,
like me sixteen and traveling alone.
I knew to disapprove of pieds noirs, assasins
(scrawled on walls or yelled by angry crowds),
but then she described Algiers before the war,
her voice a puzzling mix: now fluting, now flat,
now edged, now frail. I can’t say what I miss…
a smell to the soil? the way the air holds light?
I knew what side I was on (not hers), but sadness
seemed beyond sides. Needless, the thought
hissed, our train slowing under choked northern
skies. As she leaned opposite me, against
our window, an older face, faintly imposed,
floated through gray, rain-soaked outskirts.
Copyright 2022 Sandy Solomon
Sandy Solomon’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Vanderbilt.
After I read this my mind drifted to Russia and Ukraine, relatives who saw the former president differently, the sadness of being together human, yet torn and apart.
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