Tuesday Poem

Burcu, Yonka and Defne

I walk down the Dordtselaan almost every day
to buy bread and cigarettes at Albert Heijn’s,
and malodorous French cheese, dark
Belgian beers and cold pork products.

Once, Burcu was the girl at the checkout,
before her Yonca, and Defne before her.
Each with shiny a name-tag on a lapel.
The only words I say are “Dank je wel”.

Today, Burcu saw my many packs of ham,
looked at me, stammered, was unsure, then
deciding finally that I must be Turkish,
“I’m sorry,” she said, “this is all pork.”

“I know, as we can’t buy it back home
I often yearn for it, that’s why” I said.
“Who is ‘we’?” I thought to myself
as I slowly made my way to the flat.

Would the thought have crossed her mind,
looking with tired eyes as I walked away:
“He’s not Dutch, I can tell, that’s easy.
But what is he? That’s a harder code to crack.”

by Roni Margulies