“Happy” by Nanci Lee

Nanci Lee


You told me that I am not happy
or not someone you think of as

happy and I sense that it came from
love or something wanting to be

near it. I struck back when what
I wish I’d said was that young

Saglana from the Taiga forest
walked five miles at minus 34

to get help for her grandma.
She was four and alone along

frozen banks. No fear of
wolves. Nothing but a tight

fist of matches, trekking tundra
and carrying fire that I see and

words turn me back
into song a throat song some

lit thing nearer is all
if you’d asked.

from Poets Respond
March 19, 2017

[download audio]


Nanci Lee: “This poem is about a young Tuva girl, Saglana Salchak, from the Taiga forest in Siberia near the Mongolian border, who traveled hours to get help for her sick grandmother. She traveled several miles across frozen tundra and river banks high with snowdrifts filled with wolves. I thought about girls in fairy tales, happiness and helplessness and how wonderfully life frustrates these boxes.” (website)

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