Peace Corps Writers A Writer Writes
Where Is My Country?
     by Sheila Crofut (Czech Republic 1994 – 96)

There is a poet sits under a willow
and by his feet flows a river.
And the song of the poet
that he sings to the castle on the hill
and to the people of his heart
is my song. I sing it in the dark.

The currents of the Vlatava, the Moldau,
what have they not carried?
Paper burial urns with the ashes of the innocent.
Reflections of the loved and the hated.
The fishes know better than they
where the depths are, how the currents flow.

When the powerless rebelled
and sang the terrors away
to the ringing of the keys
in the square of the king and the saint,
the writer came from prison to the castle
and the poet to sit by the river.

We came as strangers, drops of water
in the river of change
that flows in the heart of Europe.
We were welcomed
first by bread and salt,
then by courtesies of tea.

After the napkins were folded, the lamentations.
The dead in the catacombs of St. Cyril and Methodius;
Oppressor; liberator; who can one trust?
In the library of Tomas Masaryk
an artist has placed baked and burned bodies.
Flour and water, honor and horror.

I do not remember any longer
who I was when I came,
who I was when I left.
I only remember when words broke open
and light streamed in the mind,
the river flowed and the poet sang.

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