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This poem is taken from PN Review 249, Volume 46 Number 1, September - October 2019.

Sometimes I consider the names of places Kei Miller
Sometimes I consider the names of places

Sometimes I consider the names of places:

New York, as if York was not enough;

New Orleans, as if Orleans was not enough;

New England, as if England was not enough;

the New World

as if this world was not enough.
 

There was once a woman from nowhere

There was once a woman from nowhere. That is how Hanna would begin as if it was a fairy tale she was telling and not the story of her grandmother – a woman who had lived in seven countries without ever having moved. And imagine that – the same house, the same stairs, the same clock upon the wall. But outside things were always changing, the armies invading, the borders shifting. Some mornings, without warning, the radio would just up and start speaking a new language. Babička learned how to be polite in German, and how to be demure in Russian, just so the square jawed men in green uniforms would not rape her. She could describe perfectly the land where she was from. She could not always name the place.


Sometimes I consider the names of places

Sometimes I consider the names of places. New
Zealand, as if Zeelandia was not enough. And because
the Dutch Explorer, Abel Tasman, had already spent
the bounty of his name on Tasmania. At first he
called it ‘Staten Landt’, believing its mountain ranges
connected to the southern tip of South America.
...


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