Excerpts "Heartburn", "Foriegn", "Time Machine" from Tourist
by TAK Erzinger
Yesterday I discovered what anaemia is:
quiet snowflakes turned the sky pale,
the grass capped in frost or is it called escaracha?
I whisper the word and try to hold on to it,
the way my tongue pushes against my teeth.
The day my mother departed,
cold moved in and innocence was frozen,
along with my meaning of all those words:
mami, madré. hija, niña
tongue-tied something got lost in translation.
They’ve given me iron to strengthen me,
if only it could forge us back together.
I try to eat my way back to you, so much flesh and blood.
I try to recover every dish you made me but I’m
still hungry, surrounded by empty plates
and the aroma of what was served.
Waves of indigestion chase me out of a dream.
They’ve sampled my tradition in a spoonful,
too curious to refuse.
I’m a buffet laid out, my language colourful,
a sea teeming with strange delights,
that laps at their ears
the edge of their understanding.
It could be smooth sailing, I’ve heard,
but I feel a storm in the air
caught between hot and cold, clouded
partitions create boundaries
between concrete and abstract
why must there be one or the other?
I’ve always been good at balancing
the two from my head to my heart.
They say they care but I can’t read
their lips. I beg at their table
like wasps or flies trying to snatch back
pieces they’ve appropriated, I end up starved.
Spying an aeroplane smooth and silver
far above land, between space and rock,
living two lives:
above sea-level, afraid of heights
saddled by a dialect, my tongue
blooms with foreign wounds,
I long to return to the shallows of the sea –
floating – or taste the crust of an arepa,
salted like your skin. Touch down
on a landing strip and stake claim
to abandoned places with starfruit trees
shining ripe, straining to be plucked.
Let’s return: we’ll tread the wide, once
teeming asphalt, still hot from the sun.
Jet-lagged, no one will notice how much
TAK Erzinger copyright 2023 from the collection Tourist (Sea Crow Press, Massachusetts)
TAK Erzinger is an award-winning poet. Her collection At the Foot of the Mountain (Floricanto Press California, 2021) won the University of Indianapolis Etching Press, Whirling Prize 2021 for best nature poetry book. It was also a finalist at The International Book Awards 2022, Willow Run Book Awards and Eyelands Book Awards.
Erzinger’s forthcoming poetry collection Tourist (Sea Crow Press, Massachusetts) is due out in April 2023.
Erzinger is an American/Swiss poet and artist with a Colombian background. She lives in a tiny hamlet in Switzerland with her husband and two cats.
to get burned in places unseen
"Orphan," "The Landing," "The Food's Delicious, You're Not Welcome," "The Contrition Between US" excerpted from at the foot of the mountain by Tak Erzinger.
When your mother decides to leave,
do you tell the world?
What if everyone thinks it’s your fault?
You could pretend it didn’t happen,
never talk about it and over-compensate with many things, become an awesome painter
share your artwork full of hidden meaning.
Maybe people will forget to ask.
It will push you to develop in ways you never imagined, maybe ways she would’ve been proud of, if she’d been around.
Like how you can really dance, the way she could always dance, the way you followed her steps to the beats of all the albums she bought you,
holding hands, she’d swing you around and around, pulling you close and pushing you back,
keeping you spinning,
you’d hear, I’ll always be there for you.
It’s not what she said though.
She was only singing.
When they tell you, you’ve
had a nervous breakdown
you become like an astronaut
you find yourself drifting,
pleading for someone to provide you
with the right equipment.
In the right space
you can deploy like the Eagle
confronting the “magnificent desolation” resolutely.
To be able to sink your feet into the
lunatic surface will be a revelation
tip-toeing through craters formed
long before you were born.
If you run low on fuel
at least you will have finally seen
what those wounds look like
up close and personal and like
the dark side of the moon
allow the parts unseen to be
tucked back into the envelope
of your universe.
every exploration takes time
The Food’s Delicious, You’re Not Welcome
Once adults become a certain age
it’s a matter of time before they reminisce
to talk of the past
and say it was better
Ethnic food piled high
they’ll question Why, dear friend,
aren’t you afraid?
and lick their lips in satisfaction
It requires a stranger, light-skinned
without a funny surname
to offer up dishes, exotic recipes
on familiar ground
This individual, welcomed like a pet
loves the taste of cheeseburgers
heats up the grill
to fire up their lies
The irony of being accepted
the memory of a childhood
chewing her up and spitting her out
just a little taste
garlic sautéed softens
too much spice can ruin the meal
adulting in measured cups
does not guarantee the right flavour
The common denominator loves the food
but does that mean its balanced?
I’ve learnt to share those dishes while I continue
to get burned in places unseen and am
left with scorched pans, unable to replace them.
The Contrition Between Us
We are like two cats circling,
insecure, heated, fearful.
Each one vying for his place,
seeds that have scattered haphazardly
breaking cracks in the cement,
vulnerable and strong at the same time.
It’s like we’ve forgotten what brought
us to this place: the promises,
like a wide and clear spring sky, its
passing clouds, whispers tucked under
our pillows. The scent of love lingers,
over empty plates and glasses, still warm
from the summer’s evening sun
easing the tension, making us forget
a moment about the family we will never
TAK Erzinger is an American/Swiss poet and artist with a Colombian background. Her poetry has been featured in Bien Acompañada from Cornell University, The Muse from McMaster University, River and South Review, Wilkes University and more. Her debut chapbook entitled, “Found: Between the Trees” was published by Grey Border Books, Canada 2019. Her then, unpublished poetry manuscript “At the Foot of the Mountain” was short-listed by the Eyelands Book Awards 2019 and Willow Run Book Awards 2020. It has now been published by Floricanto Press out of California, 2021. Her first audio drama Stella’s Constellation has been produced by Alt.Stories and Fake Realities Podcasts, out of the UK.
She lives in a Swiss valley with her husband and cats.
Let’s pretend I don’t exist
Rinconcito is a special little corner in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Call me Lil Coffee Bean aka Exotic Fruit