A Promise

For my mother

There have been strange visitations
You felt only now and then, when
The dog lay in the middle of the road
Refusing to walk, sensing you about to faint;

Or when you got up from the table
And the house moved with you
As if on a merry-go-round, the porcelain
Spinning in a brief, silent film.

Someone read the map of your brain
And found there ravaged side-roads:
“Interval development of subcortical infarct,
Of the upper left frontal operculum, chronic now.”

“Operculum” is a lid, acoperire—the word
Protects our vulnerable language, itself in need
Of sheltering by something less brittle.
Your new hair color looks lovely!

Wait until I get there, please, stay till
I can come to hold you and talk about cures;
Now the roads are blocked, a virus stalks and kills,
People fall like grapes from vines. I’ll be there.

Carmen Bugan

Carmen Bugan

Carmen Bugan, a George Orwell Prize Fellow, is the author of four poetry collections, a memoir, and a critical study. Her new and selected poems, Lilies from America, is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, won the Bread Loaf Conference Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction, and was a finalist in the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her critical study is Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile, and her book of essays, Poetry and the Language of Oppression, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.She has a doctorate in English literature from Balliol College, Oxford University, UK. Bugan, who was the 2018 Helen DeRoy Professor in Honors at the University of Michigan, lectures at universities, international book fairs and conferences, and has been a guest on current affairs and history programs on the BBC, ABC, NPR, The Foreign Desk (Monocle, London).
Carmen Bugan

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Author: Carmen Bugan

Carmen Bugan, a George Orwell Prize Fellow, is the author of four poetry collections, a memoir, and a critical study. Her new and selected poems, Lilies from America, is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, won the Bread Loaf Conference Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction, and was a finalist in the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her critical study is Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile, and her book of essays, Poetry and the Language of Oppression, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She has a doctorate in English literature from Balliol College, Oxford University, UK. Bugan, who was the 2018 Helen DeRoy Professor in Honors at the University of Michigan, lectures at universities, international book fairs and conferences, and has been a guest on current affairs and history programs on the BBC, ABC, NPR, The Foreign Desk (Monocle, London).