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Cecilia Woloch Poems
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from Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem by Cecilia Woloch
In Warsaw, blackbird girls
swoop down in flocks
the old town square
a swirl of dark-eyed dark-haired girls
in brilliant skirts who circle
laughing at my waist
throw up their arms
to beg for sweets
who know among the tourists
whom to choose
(how do they know?)
so being chosen, being glad
in any language (tak
means yes)
I let them pick from sticky cakes
behind the glass, the old proprietress
glares back at me
and thinks, Amerykanka, idiotka
but cannot refuse
my cash (how far
in zlotys dollars go!)
so I buy cake for every girl
then watch them fly away again
their small hands sugared, glittering
as if I'd given
jewels to them
the sky above the bitter city
sharp as diamonds then

NOTE: "Gypsies were incarcerated with Jews in the ghettoes of Bialystok, Krakow, Lodz, L'viv, Radom and Warsaw. … The total number of gypsies brought into [one] ghetto was eleven dead and 4,996 living. Of those, 2,686 were children."
-- Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
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