“What They Smuggled Across the Border” by Simona Chitescu Weik

Simona Chitescu Weik


Sewn into their coats, their shirts, underneath skirts,
folded between plentiful breasts, or beneath hats,
under arms, on the underside of the small bowl of the knee,
or some women, who braided whatever was deemed
salvageable into their hair, woven into coils, pinned
tightly against the skull. Spoons, pearl earrings,
Charmeuse silk slips and jade bracelets. One even tried
to bring thirteen porcelain figurines, a nativity scene,
later shattered by patrolmen underfoot. Photographs
in varying tones of gray, a birth certificate, though very few
brought those, hopeful for new names to blot out the horrors
of their pasts. And pistols, snug against calves, no holsters,
cold steel to keep warm flesh company. Most brought
words like piine, pamint, libertate—words to kiss
their mouths and roll on their tongues one last time,
because so many carried a pact to forget, begin again,
but not you, father, you, mother, or you, uncle,
who still wear a necklace, like a tattoo on your chest,
one dangling bullet resting softly over your heart.

from Rattle #59, Spring 2018
Tribute to Immigrant Poets


Simona Chitescu Weik: “I immigrated to the United States from Romania when I was fourteen years old, and after trying to write everything else, my experience under Communism, as well as being a child of two worlds, insinuated itself into my writing constantly, until I begrudgingly embraced the stories that demanded to be told. Coming to the United States at a later age than most of my other immigrant friends has also informed a love affair with language, an attention to textures of sound and synesthetic experiences that only something as dynamic as idiom can provide. Also, dislocation has created in me an obsessive attempt at finding, naming, reimagining the notion of home(land). I write because I belong among words and whispers.”

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