Return / Le Bonheur

Julia Knobloch

/, Julia Knobloch, Poetry/Return / Le Bonheur
Return / Le Bonheur 2017-09-17T19:30:24+00:00

Project Description

Return

My mother’s aunt lost her daughter
in a train station during the war.
She turned away for one second,
my mother used to say in terror,
only one second, and the child was gone.
She wore a blue knit hat. It was snowing.

I often return to train stations
expecting to find a home in the space
between arrivals and departures.
I return to what was lost and what will be.
I am looking for my mother.

A family has seven children;
one is missing.
I know their secrets and their blood.
Brothers seek my closeness,
then leave me in disdain and fear,
as if I were their parents’ seventh heir.
Their shadows move through moonlit deserts.
I can’t let go of what feels like home
although I’m locked out on the street.

I have a sister in Portugal.
Her brother died last year.
I sometimes talk to him.
We didn’t part ways the best of friends
but sufficiently at peace.
Before he lost his life, he lost his son.
I talk to him about his past, about how
the ocean smells of salt and light.

Grandmother Hanna lost two daughters,
one to illness, one to the new world.
Grandmother Hilde lost two homes,
one to the war, one to bankruptcy.
Both lost their husbands,
one to illness, one to suicide.
My mother lost two fathers, three cats, and me.
She loved to sunbathe on the terrace,
the staghorn sumac in our garden,
wild berries and, in summer, lukewarm mint tea.

I lost two children
before I knew if they were sons or daughters.
I lost my love on the first day of the seventh month.
I lost my laughter in the year that followed.
I lost my brothers in a night I don’t remember.
I lost my home when my father cut down the tree.

I skip stones across a lake.
I am looking for my mother.

Le Bonheur

          after the movie Le Bonheur, by Agnès Varda

François was not even surprised at himself.
How easy it was to switch from one happiness
to the next, like exchanging one book
on the shelf above the bed where he had spent
many hours with Thérèse, who loved him,
and sewed pretty dresses, and sang at night.

One day, François met Emilie, and told Thérèse:
Deal with it. I want to be happy with her.
Thérèse made love with François one last time,
out in the fields, her eyes were dry.
Then she drowned herself in the river.

Emilie put her book on the shelf
above the bed. She told him she loved him.
Happy, François now strolls along the river,
holding hands with his love, who wears a dead
woman’s necklace and doesn’t know, or care.

Julia Knobloch

Julia Knobloch is a former journalist turned translator, project manager, and emerging poet. She occasionally blogs for ReformJudaism.org and was awarded the 2016 Poem of the Year prize from Brooklyn Poets for her poem “Daylight Saving Time.” Her poems are published or forthcoming in Moment Magazine, Green Mountains Review, Yes Poetry Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, The Lake, in between hangovers, Your One Phone Call and are featured on Brooklyn Poets’ social media outlets.

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