“Dear Mama,” by Maria Jastrzebska

Maria Jastrzebska


I guess you may not receive this letter as you did not reply to my last one or the one before, and that is not like you. We have moved house, and since Sister Asunta died no one can tell me where you live. At first I thought maybe you had forgotten me or started a new family. Mom and Dad say you moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Usually they tell the truth about everything, but when I ask about you they look at each other and say nothing.

I wish you had been at Sister Asunta’s funeral. Instead of flowers from a shop everyone brought wild flowers or herbs, and the coffin was completely green and smelt lovely, with all the lavender and rosemary and bay. Except I don’t like sage, which is too bitter.

I didn’t really say goodbye to Sister Asunta except at the funeral, but Mom says she had a good death because she died in her sleep. I wonder if it hurts when you die. I hope it didn’t. I hope it’s like sinking into a feather pillow and everything getting softer and lighter. I have dreams where I fly above our house. It’s fun, and I am really light. I look down and see Mom planting nasturtiums and Dad reading the paper. I see my school and the tennis courts and the shopping mall. Once I flew so high I brushed past a big bird, and then I saw you. You were riding a horse. You were a brown dot on the horizon as small as an ant or a bug, but I knew it was you, and I woke up smiling. Love you always, Tulip X

from Rattle #59, Spring 2018
Tribute to Immigrant Poets

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Maria Jastrzebska: “I was born in Warsaw, Poland, and came to live in the United Kingdom with my family as a young child. I grew up bilingual but write poetry in English. A lot of my writing has been about growing up different and living between cultures. Polish words have sometimes slipped into my poems. I’ve been translated into Polish and I have translated Polish poetry into English so a two-way traffic continues non-stop. When people ask me what I write about I often say love and war. These new poems represent a departure in that they are textured with Spanish, with cliché and make-believe. Through prose poetry they tell the story of two women’s quests and love. However, war is never far away, for as Cowboy Hat and Ingénue travel, their narrative is interwoven with the stories of a host of other characters from the recent past, refugees and survivors also seeking a safe haven.” (web)

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